Ceremonial tool found with cremated remains in island’s earliest known gravesite
A. Little et al/Cambridge Archaeological Journal 2016
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