Israeli graves unearth earliest use of flowers at funerals

Earliest evidence of flowers being used at funerals found in ancient graves in Israel, archaeologists say.

By BRITTANY RITELL
July 2, 2013 21:50
1 minute read.
A wreath placed on the grave of police officer Yehoshua Sofer during his funeral in Beersheba June 1

Flowers funeral 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

 
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Impressions of plant stems have been found near graves at an archeological dig in Israel, the earliest known use of flowers being used at funeral ceremonies.

The burial site, which is dated to between 11,700 and 13,700 years old, is located in the Rakefet Cave in Mount Carmel.

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“We were exposing graves and we found 29 human skeletons,” said Dani Nadel, an archeologist from the University of Haifa who has spearheaded the dig. “At the bottom of four graves, after taking out human bones, we found some kind of mark on the rock and it turned out to be floral remains.”

Many of the artifacts unearthed there over the years belonged to the Natufians, who were among the first people to leave behind the nomadic lifestyle and settle.


“We know a variety of burial customs and we try to correlate it to a time of dramatic social and environmental changes in the Natufians,” Nadel told The Jerusalem Post.

The Rakefet site excavations began more than 40 years ago but were recently reopened by Nadel in 2004, because he felt that the site had more to offer and that more discoveries could be made with newer technology.

“We’ve identified the families and the species in the case of two of the plants, and that is really great – even the state of preservation,” said Nadel.

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