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Possible Arctic graveyard may be northernmost Stone Age cemetery

Still Waters

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Archaeologists think they may have found one of the largest prehistoric hunter-gatherer cemeteries in northern Europe just a hair south of the Arctic Circle. But the one important thing missing from the 6,500-year-old site in Finland is any evidence of human skeletons.

In 1959, local workers stumbled on stone tools in Simo, Finland, which is near the northern edge of the Baltic Sea just 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the Arctic Circle. The archaeological site, called Tainiaro, was partially excavated in the 1980s, revealing thousands of artifacts, including animal bones, stone tools and pottery.

Archaeologists also noticed 127 possible pits of various sizes that have since been filled in with sediment. Some contained evidence of burning, and some had traces of red ochre, a natural pigment from iron that is a key characteristic of many Stone Age burials. Without evidence of skeletons, which decay quickly in this region's acidic soil, however, the identification of Tainiaro as a cemetery was never proved.


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