Africa

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A child whose lifeless body was carefully placed in an East African cave around 78,300 years ago has made a grand return.

Researchers who unearthed the ancient youngster’s remains say that they’ve found the oldest known intentional human burial in Africa. The investigators, who report the discovery in the May 6 Nature, have named the ancient youngster Mtoto, a Swahili word that means “child.”

“Mtoto was buried in a sheltered part of a cave that was repeatedly occupied by people over a span of nearly 80,000 years, up to about 500 years ago,” said archaeologist Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, at a May 3 news conference. Local people still visit this spot to worship and conduct rituals.

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