More than 14,000 years ago, an adult male and adolescent of the Natufian culture were buried with flowers in a double grave. It is the earliest known example of flowers being placed with a burial. Photo: M. Eisenberg, E. Gerstein, A. Regev.
Fourteen-thousand-year-old examples of grave flowers have been uncovered in burials in Israel from the Natufian culture. The Natufians lived in the Levant from 13,000–9800 B.C. The culture was remarkable in that it was sedentary—or at least semi-sedentary—before the introduction of agriculture.
Impressions of ancient flowers were found in Raqefet Cave in Mount Carmel. Although excavations concluded at the cave several decades ago, the contents of the cave are still being analyzed by a team led by Dr. Dani Nadel of the University of Haifa. Based on cross-sections taken of the flower impressions, the team was able to identify several aromatic plants, such as mint and sage. Additionally, the team determined that the flowers had been laid in plaster inside the grave before the bodies were interred. The findings were recently detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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