Today's News

Alaska researchers discover rare remains of an Ice Age child

Skylar Chase looks at items from a site that held a child's remains.
Skylar Chase looks at items from a site that held a child's remains.
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Researchers say they've uncovered the oldest cremated human remains ever discovered in northern North America. The 2- to 4-year-old, found in central Alaska, is only the second Ice Age child discovered on the continent, according to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Archaeologists found the remains in a fire pit in an abandoned living area. The child probably died about 11,500 years ago, based on research by the university's Ben Potter and his team.

The team uncovered small pieces of skeleton and teeth buried in an area where the researchers think a small house stood. It had poles around the outside holding up animal skins or a sod roof. Where the inside of the house had been, they found the remains and a cooking area, what Potter called "the center of domestic activity."

Potter said that the care the ancient people took burying the child and the fact that they left their home probably indicate that "the child was important to them."


© 2011 The Washington Post Company