Oldest human found in Alaska is a child, cremated 11,500 years ago

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Some 11,500 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, a child died near a river in what is now central Alaska. The people living with the child in a tent-pole house - presumably the parents - placed the 3-year-old's body in their home's cooking pit and lit a fire. After two to three hours of burning, the family covered the remains with dirt and left.

That's the dramatic story emerging from the study of the oldest human remains ever found in Alaska - and some of the oldest in all of North America.

"The cremation was the last event to take place in the hearth," said Ben Potter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, who led the team of archaeologists investigating the site on a broad sandy plain southeast of the city.

Their study of site appears in this week's issue of Science....

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