Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Scientists Unearth Ice Age Children’s Grave in Alaska

Ice Age infants

(Photo : The remains of two Ice Age infants have been found in Alaska.

The delicate 11,500-year-old remains of two Ice Age infants were found in Upward Sun River, an archaeological site in central Alaska.

Researchers unearthed the skeletons beneath the cremated remains of a 3-year-old child in 2010. The remains may help to better understand the death practice rituals of the Ice Age in North America.

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A team of researchers led by Ben Potter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks published online the detailed study at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

The remains consist of the bones of a late-term fetus and a child that died shortly after birth. It's about 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) at the double burial.

Researchers said projectile points and antler shafts coated with ochre were interred along with the infants, probably as part of a burial ritual.

The team also asked for permission to study the remains from the local and regional native groups and state officials.

"They were treating the human remains with respect, and that's really what you need to do," said Roy Carlson, professor emeritus of archaeology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, who was not involved in the study.

Potter said this type of ritual for infants displayed "a new facet of Paleoindian behavior that we never really encountered before."

Researchers believe the two infants are girls. They suggest a DNA test to verify if the infant girls are twins. This would answer the question why the girls are buried together.

"One could have died in utero, and then that enhances the potential for an early death for the surviving child," Potter added.

Aside from the infants' remains, the team discovered a prehistoric hunting tool kit that includes stone-made bifaces, dart or spear points and antler foreshafts.

The study suggests prehistoric hunters may have used stone weapons and foreshafts together.

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