Image: Skeletons of newborns
Austrian Academy of Sciences  /  AP
Archaeologists uncovered these remains of two newborn children dating back 27,000 years while excavating a hillside in northern Austria last week near the Danube River city of Krems.
updated 9/26/2005 2:35:32 PM ET 2005-09-26T18:35:32

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of two newborns dating back 27,000 years while excavating a hillside in northern Austria, the scientist in charge of the project said Monday.

Last week's find near the Danube River city of Krems is important because the newborns were buried beneath mammoth bones and with a string of 31 beads — suggesting that the interment involved some sort of ritual, said Christine Neugebauer-Maresch, the project's leader at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

"They could be twins," she said. "They have the same (length) limbs and were buried together."

The burial — one of the oldest in the region — is also significant in that the children were not simply disposed of after their deaths, Neugebauer-Maresch said. The burial suggests "they were members of society," she said.

Archaeologists are combing the area to see if the infants' mother is nearby, as giving birth to twins in that era would have been extremely difficult and potentially fatal.

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