World's oldest burial reveals emotions of early man

In a cave near the Kenyan coast, lies the body of a child.

This is the oldest known human burial site, dating back 78, 000 years.

According to the head of archeology for Kenya's museums, Dr Emmanuel Ndiema on Wednesday, the discovery sheds new light on the emotional life of early Home Sapiens.

"For a very long time we have only been looking at the technology, the subsistence, the environment. But we are beginning to understand now these people having some emotional attachments to the dead, that they can be able to intentionally bury them."

Nicknamed Mtoto, or "child" in Swahili, the body had been placed in a shallow grave.

The head was resting on a pillow, scientists say, and the upper part of the body was carefully wrapped in a shroud.

"The age of the child is 2-3 years. That is what we approximate based on the dental formula, and also the sediment itself has bee dated to 78,000 years and that actually falls within the time frame of Homo Sapiens or anatomically modern human beings. So these are people just like you and me."

Mtoto was part of a hunter gatherer culture, with remains of various antelope species and other prey found at the site.

Also found were stone tools and stone points that could be used as part of a spear.

Ndiema said the discovery also shows early Homo sapiens lived in different parts of what is now Kenya.

That contradicts a long-standing narrative that suggested early humans only settled in the Great Rift Valley, further west from the coast.

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