Austrian Twins Update

The above is a picture of the 27,000 year old infant skeletons discovered in Austria. New Scientisist has a story on them as well:

The remains have yet to be carbon-dated but are thought to be at least 27,000 years old, because other artefacts from the area have been dated to between 40,000 and 27,000 years old. During this period, which falls within the Upper Palaeolithic, Neanderthals were superseded by modern humans, who were developing increasingly sophisticated hunting abilities and forms of culture.

The babes were placed side by side in their grave and protected beneath a woolly mammoth’s shoulder blade, which was propped up by pieces of mammoth tusk. The bodies were wrapped in a material such as animal hide that has since deteriorated and were covered with ochre.


The pair has been moved to Vienna’s Natural History Museum, where they will be examined further and carbon-dated by Maria Teschler-Nicole. She will place the remains within a chamber with controlled humidity in order to limit further deterioration.

Two 27,000 Year Old Baby Skeltons Found in Austria

News 24 is reporting that two 27,000 year old skeletons – believed to be from twins – have been found in Austria:

The 27 000 year old skeletons of two ice age infants have been found near Krems in northern Austria, the first discovery of its kind in Europe, the Austrian press reported on Saturday.

The perfectly preserved skeletons measuring 40cm had been protected by a mammoth’s shoulder-blade bone, under which they had been buried on a sheltered hillside on the banks of the Danube river.

The grave, discovered 5.5m below ground, also contained a necklace of 31 pearls made from mammoth ivory and was located next to an area inhabited by ancient “homo sapiens fossilis”, newspapers reported.

“It is the first discovery of a child’s grave dating from this period,” confirmed the excavation manager, Christine Neugebauer-Maresch, to the daily newspaper Kurier. “They may have been twins, but we have not yet been able to establish that,” she told Die Presse.

The age of the skeletons will be analysed by the Institute of Natural Sciences in Vienna, which will also determine the cause of death.

“Homo sapiens fossilis” came out of Asia during the ice age as Neanderthal Man was dying out, and mastered stone and wood, but did not discover metal.

Other news sources have reported it as well but all contain about the same amount of info as the above. For example this from Live Science:

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of two newborns dating back 27,000 years while excavating a hillside in northern Austria, the scientist in charge of the project said Monday.

Last week’s find near the Danube River city of Krems is important because the newborns were buried beneath mammoth bones and with a string of 31 beads _ suggesting that the internment involved some sort of ritual, said Christine Neugebauer-Maresch, the project’s leader at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

“They could be twins,” she said. “They have the same (length) limbs and were buried together.”

The burial _ one of the oldest in the region _ is also significant in that the children were not simply disposed of after their deaths, Neugebauer-Maresch said. The burial suggests “they were members of society,” she said.

Archaeologists are combing the area to see if the infants’ mother is nearby, as giving birth to twins in that era would have been extremely difficult and potentially fatal.

Interesting, because the burial was intentional and because of the age of the find.