An extraordinary excavation of a Stone Age burial website has actually been performed in Majoonsuo, positioned in the town of Outokumpu in Eastern Finland. The excavation produced microscopically little pieces of bird plumes, canine and little mammalian hairs, and plant fibers. The findings acquired through soil analysis are distinct, as raw material is inadequately protected in Finland’s acidic soil. The research study, led by Archaeologist Tuija Kirkinen, was targeted at examining how these extremely broken down plant- and animal-based products might be traced through soil analysis.
Throughout the Stone Age in Finland, the deceased were interred generally in pits in the ground. Little of the raw material from human-made items have actually been protected in Stone Age graves in Finland, however it is understood, on the basis of burial websites in the surrounding areas, that items made from bones, teeth and horns along with furs and plumes were positioned in the tombs.
Teeth and arrowheads discovered at a loss ochre tomb
The Trial Excavation Group of the Finnish Heritage Firm analyzed the website in 2018, as it was thought about to be at threat of damage. The tomb was found under a gravelly sand roadway in a forest, with the top of the severe partly exposed. The website was initially distributed by the extreme colour of its red ochre. Red ochre, or iron-rich clay soil, has actually been utilized not just in burials however likewise in rock art worldwide.
In the historical dig at the burial website, just a couple of teeth were discovered of the departed, on the basis of which they are understood to have actually been a kid in between 3 and ten years of age. In addition, 2 transverse arrowheads made from quartz and 2 other possible quartz items were discovered in the tomb. Based upon the shape of the arrowheads and shore-level dating, the burial can be approximated to have actually occurred in the Mesolithic duration of the Stone Age, approximately 6,000 years prior to the Typical Age.
What made the excavation remarkable was the near-complete conservation of the soil coming from the tomb. An overall of 65 soil sample bags weighing in between 0.6 and 3.4 kgs were gathered, likewise contrast samples were drawn from outside the tomb. The soil was examined in the archaeology lab of the University of Helsinki. Raw material was separated from the samples utilizing water. In this manner, the exposed fibers and hairs were related to the assistance of transmitted-light and electron microscopy.
Earliest plume pieces discovered in Finland
From the soil samples, an overall of 24 tiny (0.2– 1.4 mm) pieces of bird plumes were recognized, the majority of which come from down. 7 plume pieces were recognized as originating from the down of a waterfowl ( Anseriformes). These are the earliest plume pieces ever discovered in Finland. Although the origin of the down is difficult to state with certainty, it might originate from clothes made from waterfowl skins, such as a parka or an anorak. It is likewise possible that the kid was laid on a down bed.
In addition to the waterfowl down, one falcon ( Falconidae) plume piece was recognized. It might have initially belonged to the fletching of the arrows connected to the arrowheads, or, for instance, from plumes utilized to embellish the garment.
Dog or wolf hairs?
Besides the plumes, 24 pieces of mammalian hair were recognized, varying from 0.5 to 9.5 mm in length. The majority of the hairs were terribly broken down, making recognition no longer possible. The finest discoveries were the 3 hairs of a canine, perhaps a predator, discovered at the bottom of the tomb. The hairs might likewise stem, for instance, in shoes made from wolf or dog skin. It is likewise possible a dog was laid at the kid’s feet.
” Pet dogs buried with the deceased have actually been discovered in, for instance, Skateholm, a well-known burial website in southern Sweden going back some 7,000 years,” states Teacher Kristiina Mannermaa, University of Helsinki.
” The discovery in Majoonsuo is astonishing, although there is absolutely nothing however hairs left of the animal or animals– not even teeth. We do not even understand whether it’s a dog or a wolf,” she states, including: “The approach utilized, shows that traces of fur and plumes can be discovered even in tombs a number of countless years of ages, consisting of in Finland.”
” This all offers us an extremely important insight about burial practices in the Stone Age, showing how individuals had actually prepared the kid for the journey after death”, states Kirkinen.
The soil has plenty of details
Likewise discovered were 3 pieces of plant fibers, which are maintained especially inadequately in the acidic Finnish soil. The fibers were what are referred to as bast fibers, suggesting that they originate from, for instance, willows or nettles. At the time, the item they became part of might have been a net utilized for fishing, a cable utilized to connect clothing, or a package of strings. For the time being, just one other bast fiber discovery going back to the Mesolithic Stone Age is understood in Finland: the famous Antrea Internet on display screen in the National Museum of Finland, laced with willow bast fibers.
A fiber separation method was established in the research study, and is currently being used in subsequent research studies. The task has actually shown the excellent details worth of soil drawn out from historical sites.
The research study becomes part of the ERC-funded task entitled Animals Make Identities (https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/animals-make-identities) headed by Kristiina Mannermaa.
The research study was released in the PlosONE series. In addition to Kirkinen and Mannermaa, adding to the research study were Olalla López-Costas and Antonio Martínez Cortizas from the EcoPast research study group at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Sanna P. Sihvo, Hanna Ruhanen and Reijo Käkelä from the Helsinki University Lipidomics System (HiLIPID), Marja Ahola and Johanna Roiha from the discipline of archaeology at the University of Helsinki, Jan-Erik Nyman, Esa Mikkola and Janne Rantanen from the Archaeological Field Solutions system of the Finnish Heritage Firm and Esa Hertell from the museums of the City of Lappeenranta.