An archaeologist has revealed that a rare ancient cemetery for hunter-gatherers near Lake Baikal in Siberia was the last resting place of a young mother who died giving birth to the earliest ever verified set of twins.
The grave was first excavated in 1997 and was initially thought contain a woman aged 20 to 25 years old and a single child. Carbon dating showed she was buried between 7,725 and 7,630 years ago. She was buried lying on her back with several marmot teeth decorating her body, and was one of 101 bodies so far found at the site – all members of a community that hunted in the area between 8,000 and 7,000 years ago.
In 2012 Canadian archaeologist Angela Lieverse was studying the woman’s bones when she realized that some of the fetal bones in her body were duplicates.
By analyzing the original placement of the bones within the mother’s pelvic area and between her thighs, Lieverse reconstructed the likeliest scenario: one of the twins was breech (positioned feet down) and was partially delivered. The second twin was positioned head down but died in the womb, trapped or locked with the first twin.
Cases of death during childbirth are very rare in the archaeological record (although the oldest known case dating to around 25,000 years ago was found in Italy) and cases of verified twins have been unknown up to now.
Source: Live Science