The two children whose skeletons are shown in this photograph were both under 10 years of age, and were probably buried at the same time. An earlier burial of a baby was found at a slightly lower level in the space between them. Archaeologists found these burials in the floor of a house at Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic agricultural settlement in Turkey that was continuously occupied between 8000 BCE and 6400 BCE. Many of the settlement's hundreds of houses contained multiple burials. The pits, which were sealed with white plaster lids, lay beneath raised platforms where people slept and worked, living close to their ancestors. Some of the houses were ritually closed and collapsed upon the death of an important family member. According to analysis of skeletons found at Çatalhöyük, life expectancy averaged 34 years for men and 28 years for women.
Annotated by Susan Douglass.