In Finland, archaeologists have discovered what may be a cemetery dating back to the Stone Age. However, the 6,500-year-old gravesite does not contain any evidence of human remains.
The cemetery was located just 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle and may be one of the largest prehistoric hunter-gatherer burial grounds ever found in northern Europe.
It is unlikely that a large cemetery would have existed so close to the Arctic Circle, but so far, all signs seem to point there.
If that is the case, it means humans had the ability not just to survive but to thrive in the region, developing extensive, complex communities despite the brutal weather conditions.
The archaeological site where the cemetery was found is called Tainiaro. In 1959, local workers came across a collection of stone artifacts while removing sand. It wasn’t until 1984 that official excavations were carried out at the site.
Archaeologists were only able to investigate a small portion of the area due to a lack of resources, so the significance of the site was never fully recognized.
During the previous excavations, researchers uncovered several pits in the ground that they interpreted as graves.
According to Aki Hakonen, an archaeologist at the University of Oulu in Finland, the region contains very acidic soil, which causes organic materials such as human skeletons to decay quickly. As a result, nothing lasts longer than a millennium, so the pits are all that experts have to go off of.
Hakonen and his team conducted further analyses of the discoveries at Tainiaro to determine the likelihood of the cemetery hypothesis being an accurate one.