Child’s grave is the oldest human burial found in Africa
Seemingly once wrapped in a shroud, head nestled on a pillow, the remains of a child unearthed in Kenya may illuminate the deep origins of burial as a ritual practice.
In a tour de force of discovery, recovery, and analysis, an interdisciplinary research team has uncovered the earliest known human burial in Africa. The grave, found less than 10 miles inland from southeast Kenya’s lush ocean beaches, contained the remains of a two- to three-year-old child buried with extraordinary care by a community of early Homo sapiens some 78,000 years ago. While some human burials in the Middle East and Europe are older, the find in Africa provides one of the earliest unequivocal examples anywhere of a body interred in a pit prepared for that purpose and covered with earth.
“This is unambiguously a burial, unambiguously dated. Very early. Very impressive,” says Paul Pettitt of