Kiffians, Tenerians, and Awe

A remarkable triple burial -- containing a woman and two children who were 5 (left) and 8 years old, their limbs entwined -- was discovered at the Gobero site during the 2006 field season. Pollen clusters found in the sand indicated the three had been buried on top of flowers. The skeletons showed no sign of injury and had been ceremonially posed and buried, along with four arrowheads. The image appears in the September 2008 National Geographic. (Credit: Mike Hettwer (c) 2008 National Geographic)
Stone Age embrace: A remarkable triple burial -- containing a woman and two children who were 5 (left) and 8 years old, their limbs entwined -- was discovered at the Gobero site during the 2006 field season. Pollen clusters found in the sand indicated the three had been buried on top of flowers. The skeletons showed no sign of injury and had been ceremonially posed and buried, along with four arrowheads. The image appears in the September 2008 National Geographic. (Credit: Mike Hettwer (c) 2008 National Geographic)

This morning I’ve been reading stories in the  New York TimesScience Daily, and National Geographic, all based on the findings of Paul Serno and his colleagues and presented in a paper on PLos ONE.  They tell of people who lived and died in the Sahara when the Sahara wasn’t dry, and the articles gave me that awe-filled, castles-in-the-air feeling that was so much more common in childhood, when the whole arc of human history seemed to whoosh up and past like a train.

Says John Nobel Wilford in the Times article:

A girl was buried wearing a bracelet carved from a hippo tusk. A man was seated on the carapace of a turtle.

And in the photo above, two children reach out to their mother for thousands of years.

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Whoosh.