The awareness of death is one of the manifestations of consciousness, but there is debate as to when this awareness arose in hominins and what size brains are needed for this ability. Spanish Palaeoanthropologist, Prof Juan Luis Arsuaga, discusses the hominin bone accumulations at two cave sites: Sima de los Huesos (Spain) and Rising Star (South Africa). Both are dated to around 300 000 to 400 000 years old. Are these intentional burials by other hominins? Had hominins already discovered the existence of death and the knowledge that we all die?
Professor Arsuaga is a Spanish palaeoanthropologist. He directs the UCM-ISCII Evolution and Human Behavior Centre and co-directs excavations in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain).
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