Remains of Ancient Feast to Honor Dead Shaman Discovered Live Science - August 31, 2010
Prehistoric leftovers of a feast 12,000 years ago at an apparent shaman's gravesite have been unearthed in what is now Israel. Archaeologists say the ritual might be the first clear evidence of feasting in early humans, a sign of the kinds of increasingly complex societies that proved crucial to the dawn of agriculture. In a cave above a creek in the Galilee region of northern Israel, scientists discovered the body of a petite, elderly, disabled woman, most probably a shaman, in 2005. As they continued to excavate, they found the woman apparently was intentionally laid to rest in a specially crafted hollow between the remains of at least 71 Mediterranean tortoises, as well as with seashells, beads, stone tools and bone tools. In a separate pit nearby, they also found bones of at least three wild, extinct cattle known as aurochs.
Ancient Sorcerer's "Wake" Was First Feast for the Dead? National Geographic - August 31, 2010
Leftovers, skeletons hint that world's first villagers fostered peace via partying. Some 12,000 years ago in a small sunlit cave in northern Israel, mourners finished the last of the roasted tortoise meat and gathered up dozens of the blackened shells. Kneeling down beside an open grave in the cave floor, they paid their last respects to the elderly dead woman curled within, preparing her for a spiritual journey. They tucked tortoise shells under her head and hips and arranged dozens of the shells on top and around her.
Then they left her many rare and magical things - the wing of a golden eagle, the pelvis of a leopard, and the severed foot of a human being. Now called Hilazon Tachtit, the small cave chosen as this woman's resting place is the subject of an intense investigation led by Leore Grosman, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Already her research has revealed that the mystery woman - a member of the Natufian culture, which flourished between 15,000 and 11,600 years ago in what is now Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and possibly Syria - was the world's earliest known shaman. Considered a skilled sorcerer and healer, she was likely seen as a conduit to the spirit world, communicating with supernatural powers on behalf of her community, Grosman said.
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