Several isolated finds of copper
objects have been discovered from before the 6th Millennia B.C. The
earliest artefact of pure copper known to me is a 2.3 cm pendant
found in the Shanidar Cave located in north-east Iraq that is dated
to 9,500 B.C. (Hummel 2004).
which was inhabited by Neanderthal for over 30,000 years
(from 60,000 - 35,000 BC), until the arrival of the
excavations produced nine skeletons of Neanderthals of varying ages
(labelled Shanidar I - IX). A tenth was recently discovered by the
Smithsonian institute. The burials have led to the realisation that
at this early time burials were accompanied by funeral ceremonies
Shanidar I was an
elderly Neanderthal male known as 'Nandy' to its excavators. He was
40-45 years old and displayed signs of deformity and trauma. At
different times of his life he had suffered violent blows and
congenital childhood diseases all of which show care and healing
long before his death indicating care amongst groups of Humanoids at
this early time.
Shanidar II was an
adult male who evidently died in a rock-fall inside the cave. There
is evidence of a ritual send-off found on top of his grave.
Shanidar III was
another adult male who suffered from a degenerative joint disorder
Shanidar IV (The
"Flower Burial"). This skeleton of a male between 35-40 years old
was found in a foetal position. Soil samples from the site showed
the presence of large amounts of flowers over the burial. A study of
the particular flower types suggested that the flowers may have been
chosen for their medicinal properties. Yarrow, Cornflower,
Batchelor's Button, St Barnaby's Thistle, Ragwort, Grape Hyacinth
and Hollyhock were all represented in the samples, all of which have
long-known curative properties. Recent work into the flower burial'
has suggested that the pollen might actually have been introduced by
animal action as several burrows of a gerbil-like rodent known as
the Persian Jird were found nearby. this has left the debate open
ended for present.