According to this article in the British online current affairs magazine First Post, the arrangement of 27 skeletons of Homo heidelbergensis, along with a hand axe carved in rose quartz, in a cave in Spain’s Atapuerca hills, suggests to at least one archaelogist evidence of deliberate burial:
As archaeologist Susana Callizo explains: “Sixty metres beneath us here is the Sima de los Huesos, the Pit of Bones. That’s a cave where we have found 27 skeletons of Homo heidelbergensis, who lived here 300,000 years back.”She continues: “The question you have to ask is, how did those skeletons get down there? The Pit of Bones is inaccessible. Even today it is difficult to approach – the archaeologists have to abseil down a narrow chasm, then crawl through passages, before they can start digging. Some people think the bodies might have been washed down there, by rainstorms or wind, but most believe that this is very unlikely, given the remote nature of the cavern.”
Callizo concludes: “It is likely that the bodies were deliberately buried here. Interred by their relatives maybe.”
The term ‘buried’ is deeply contentious when talking of hominids from so long ago, because it implies religion.
Obviously the practice of religion had to start somewhere, but why does burial “imply” religion? Certainly it would imply some kind of ritual or ceremony, but it seems a bit of a stretch to extrapolate faith in a god/gods or the afterlife from a burial ground.