Hominin evolutionary thanatology from the mortuary to funerary realm: the
palaeoanthropological bridge between chemistry and culture
Paul Pettitt
Philosophical transactions of the royal society B, 2018

I suggest that the most profound innovation of the hominins was the incorporation of places into the commemoration of the dead, and propose a falsifiable mechanism for why this came about; and I suggest that the pattern of the earliest burials fits with modern hunter–gatherer belief systems about death, and how these vary by social complexity. Finally, I propose several research questions pertaining to the social context of funerary practices, suggesting how a hominin evolutionary thanatology may contribute not only to our understanding of human behavioural evolution, but to a wider thanatology of the animal kingdom.

Landscapes of the dead. The evolution of human mortuary activity from body to place in Palaeolithic Europe.
Paul Pettitt
Durham University Library, 2015

the appearance of elaborate burials and ‘art’ during the European Upper Palaeolithic may be confidently interpreted as reflecting some kind of underlying assumptions relating to symbolic systems and cosmological beliefs, even if the specific meaning of these phenomena will never be known to us. But how far can one push back the recognition that hominins believed in the persistence and agency of the dead?

From the Sunghir Children to the Romito Dwarf. Aspects of the Upper Paleolithic Funerary Landscape
Vincenzo Formicola
Current anthropology, 2007

some of the most spectacular multiple burials include a severely deformed individual. This is the case of the extraordinarily ornamented double burial of the Sunghir children (Russia), the triple interment of Dolní Věstonice (Moravia), which includes young individuals lying in unusual positions, and the adolescent dwarf from Romito Cave (Italy), buried together with a woman under the engraving of a bull. These findings point to the possibility that human sacrifices were part of the ritual activity of these populations and provide clues on the complexity and symbolism pervading Upper Paleolithic societies as well as on the perception of “diversity” and its links to magical‐religious beliefs.

On the report “From the Sunghir Children to the Romito Dwarf“
Vit Lang
Current Anthropology, 2007

The aim of the Formicola’s contribution (Current Anthropology.2007.48: 446-453) isto point to a possibility of human sacrifices inthe Upper Paleolithic in Europe.Nevertheless, the articlefails to giverealgrounds for supposing there weresuchpractices.