Archaeologists from the Polish Academy of Sciences have discovered a set of 7,000-year-old bone tools in the Letty River basin in northern Sudan that were believed to have been used to bleed cows. On this subject informed Nauka w Polsce.
According to the head of the excavations, Dr Piotr Osipinsky, this is perhaps the oldest evidence of this type of practice.
The archaeologists’ research subject was a cemetery in the Letty Basin region of the Middle Nile Valley. It was discovered several years ago during the construction of a road.
The remains of one of the first pastoral communities in this part of Africa are buried in the cemetery, writes Nauka w Polsce.
“For us, it’s a real pleasure, because cemeteries from such an ancient period are very rarely discovered,” Osipinsky said.
In one of the tombs, which particularly attracted the attention of archaeologists, they found the remains of an elderly man and fragments of animal skins dyed with red ocher. Also in the burial was a bowl with traces of ocher and five blades, presumably made from the bones of cattle.
According to Osipinsky, all tools remained sharp at the time of discovery.
“Given the characteristic shape of the blades, they could be used to bleed cows, as do modern African herders, such as the Maasai. Without any harm to the animals, they drink cow’s blood on special occasions, usually mixing it with milk,” the scientist said.
According to the researcher, the remains found in the cemetery belonged to one of the oldest pastoral communities that roamed the African Sahel region with large herds of cattle.
Hole in the skull: operation or ritual
In the second tomb, which interested archaeologists, the remains of a young man were found lying in a fetal position, with a hole about five centimeters in diameter precisely dug in the skull. Its body was covered in dyed animal skin, and next to it were an ocher rubbing paddle and two bone blades.
“There were no signs of gradual healing, so it’s likely that this procedure (a hole in the skull) could be associated with the death of a young man. It’s hard to imagine how 7,000 years ago years, using only stone tools, people could and did perform such dangerous and complex surgeries,” Dr. Osipinsky said.
Scientists do not know if these procedures are related to the treatment of diseases or if they were rather magical practices, added the archaeologist.
The researchers also unearthed piles of cattle bones. According to archaeologists, the animals could have been buried by people of the time. During the excavations, the scientists will try, among other things, to determine whether it is the domestication of cattle by local shepherds in Africa or whether the animals were brought from the Middle East, the newspaper writes.