Time of Hunters and Farmers extra

The Time of Hunters and Farmers
5. Burying the dead
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The Time of Hunters and Farmers
5. Burying the dead

Slide 1 - Tekstslide

What you will learn in 
this lesson
  • how prehistoric people buried their dead
  • what historians can learn about prehistoric people by studying their graves
  • what megalithic tombs are

Slide 2 - Tekstslide

Slide 3 - Tekstslide

Burying the dead
The earliest people left their dead in caves. They sometimes buried the bodies. Later, people buried grave goods with the dead. Grave goods are tools, weapons, food and possessions. Historians think this shows these people believed in an afterlife. 
The grave goods were for the dead to use in the afterlife. These burials start between 25,000 and 30,000 years ago. 
As people started to live in one place most of the time, they always buried their dead. They buried them in one grave or in family graves. People often buried the dead with shell or bone jewellery. They scattered red ochre over the bodies. Historians have
different ideas about why they did this. We have no written records to tell us what red ochre meant to prehistoric people. However, it was clearly part of a burial ceremony. 

Slide 4 - Tekstslide

When people became farmers, they carried on burying their dead, sometimes in cemeteries. The more possessions people had, the more they buried with the dead. When they began to make pottery, they buried that, too. Possessions were often put in exact places in the grave. Sometimes, possessions were buried near, not with, the body. At different times, bodies were laid in the ground in different ways. Mostly, they were laid on their backs or curled up on their sides. This shows that whole groups of 
prehistoric people buried their dead in the same way. This suggests that they shared some religious beliefs. 

Slide 5 - Tekstslide

At first, only important people were buried. Later, more and more people were buried. When several people are buried in the same place at the same time, you can work out how important each person was. The most important people were buried with the most possessions. 
These possessions were well made or made from materials that came from far away.

Slide 6 - Tekstslide

Burial or cremation?
 At first, most prehistoric people seem to have buried their dead. Later, some 
people cremated their dead. They burned the body and then buried the ashes, 
Pottery with human ashes inside was buried from about 5,000 BC. Ashes and 
bodies were not buried in the same places. Perhaps some people always cremated their dead. But we have no evidence of this until they began to bury the ashes in pottery.

Slide 7 - Tekstslide

Megalithic tombs 
The last change in prehistoric burial in Europe was when people began to build tombs for the dead. This began in about 4800 BC. These tombs are called ‘megalithic’ tombs (mega = huge / big).
People built a wooden frame and covered it in earth. Later, they made the frame from stone. From the outside you could only see the mound and an entrance. 
The first megalithic tombs were only a few metres long. As time passed, people built bigger tombs, especially in the Netherlands and France. People put bodies and cremated remains in megalithic tombs. They also buried pottery, tools, food and animals. It was hard work to build even a small tomb.The same tomb was used over hundreds of years. Archaeologists think they were probably for the most important families. 

Slide 8 - Tekstslide

stone circles
At the same time as they built megalithic tombs, people used huge stones to build stone circles, such as Stonehenge in England. It seems that huge stones were important in religion. Perhaps people hoped their gods would be pleased with the effort they made to move and lift the stones. 

Slide 9 - Tekstslide

Trijntje: an early Dutch woman 
Archaeologists found the grave of a woman buried about 5,000 years ago at Hardinxveld-Giessendam. They called her Trijntje. She was probably one of a group of 20-30 hunter-gatherers who had a winter camp there. Her grave in the black soil was lined with a layer of white sand. Buried near her were: 
  • some fish 
  • small flint tools 
  • wooden canoe paddles 
  • axes made from elk antlers 
  • a wooden bow 
  • a dog. 

Slide 10 - Tekstslide

Source A
This young man was buried in a cave in Italy about 22,000 years ago He was part of hunter-gatherer community. Red ochre was scattered all over his body. He was buried with several possessions. Archaeologists think he was an important person.

Slide 11 - Tekstslide

Source B
Archaeologists have found two Ice Age babies, buried in Austria about 27,000 years ago. They were buried under the shoulder blade of a mammoth. They were covered in red ochre and wrapped in an animal skin. 
A string of mammoth tusk beads was round one baby's waist. The chief archaeologist said: "Putting the mammoth shoulder bone over them, as if to protect them in the afterlife, shows great care at their burial." 

From a newspaper report of the find, published in September 2005. 

Slide 12 - Tekstslide

Source C
This woman and her baby were buried about 6,000 years ago, in Denmark. She was from a hunter-gatherer group that spent much of its time at Vedbaek. Red ochre was scattered over their bodies. The woman’s head was on a pillow decorated with snail shells and deer teeth. The baby lay in a swan’s wing. A flint knife was 
tied round the baby’s waist.

Slide 13 - Tekstslide

Source D
The Dutch word for a megalithic tomb is 'hunebed’. 
Drenthe has over 50. This is the largest hunebed in the Netherlands. It is about 22.5 metres long. It was covered in earth. The entrance is the opening between the first and second stones from the left.

Slide 14 - Tekstslide