Link: Neandertal burial ritual with antler hearths01 Oct 2016
A Neandertal “burial ritual” at Des-Cubierta Cave? “Cave fires and rhino skull used in Neanderthal burial rituals”.
The blackened hearths surround a spot where the jaw and six teeth of a Neanderthal toddler were found in the stony sediment. Puzzlingly, within each of these hearths was the horn or antler of a herbivore, apparently carefully placed there. In total, there were 30 horns from aurochs and bison as well as red deer antlers, and a rhino skull nearby.
Archaeologists believe the fires may have been lit as some sort of funeral ritual around where the toddler, known as the Lozoya Child, was placed around 38,000 to 42,000 years ago.
If that description is accurate, it is hard to imagine this behavior outside of a symbolic culture. This is more than simple mortuary deposition, it requires the construction of an elaborate and consistent series of associations with arbitrary objects.