11-07-2008 09:34

An ancient grave unearthed in modern-day Israel is likely one of the earliest known shaman burial sites. Israeli archaeologists say the grave contains 50 tortoise shells, a human foot and body parts from numerous animals.

The 12,000-year-old grave, is said to date back to the Natufian people. These were the first people to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. The grave -- of a woman -- was discovered in a the nature preserve along the Hilazon River near the northern Israeli town of Carmiel.

The Israeli team found the bones in a small cave that served as a Natufian burial chamber for a least 28 people.

The woman found in the grave was interred with some unusual items.

Dr. Leore Grosman of the Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, said, "While excavating the grave down we excavated through a very large stone and found a lot of tortoises and in final count, we know today that we have at least 50 tortoises. Not only that, each part of her body, next to parts of her body were really interesting animal bones from a pelvis of a leopard and a white boar, a white pig under her arm to a third foot of a different person" .

At the time of burial, more than 10 large stones were placed directly on the head, pelvis, and arms of the elderly woman, whose body was lain on its side. The legs were parted and folded inward at the knee.

The interment rituals and the method used to construct and seal the grave suggest this to be the earliest known burial of an ancient shaman from the region and one of the earliest known from the archaeological record.

Shamans still play an important role in many cultures. They serve their community, acting as mediators between the human and spiritual worlds,act as messengers between the worlds, acting as healers and magicians.

The grave revealed several artifacts whose likenesses were later to become central to the the symbolism of the spirit world world wide.


Editor:Yang Jie