Stone adze points to ancient burial rituals in Ireland | Science News

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Stone adze points to ancient burial rituals in Ireland

Ceremonial tool found with cremated remains in island’s earliest known gravesite

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4:33pm, November 9, 2016
stone adze

RITUAL EDGE  Microscopic study of this stone adze, found in a more than 9,000-year-old pit near Ireland’s River Shannon, suggests that it played a key role in ceremonies surrounding an ancient hunter-gatherer’s cremation and burial.

A stone chopping tool found in Ireland’s earliest known human burial offers a rare peek at hunter-gatherers’ beliefs about death more than 9,000 years ago, researchers say.

The curved-edge implement, known as an adze, was made to be used at a ceremony in which an adult’s largely cremated remains were interred in a pit, says a team led by archaeologist Aimée Little of the University of York in England. Previous radiocarbon dating of burned wood and a bone fragment from the pit, at a site called Hermitage near the River Shannon, places the material at between 9,546 and 9,336 years old.

A new microscopic analysis revealed a small number of wear marks on the sharpened edge of the still highly polished adze, which was probably attached to a wooden handle, the

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