80,000 evidence of herbal medicine at Shanidar, Iraq?

Since hearing about the meadowsweet flowers discovered in Perth I have been researching to find out what other pollens and flowers have been found in ancient burial sites.

Shanidar Cave, Iraq, is a Neanderthal burial site dated 60-80,000 years ago which was excavated in 1957-1961. Archaeologists found the body of a man they named Shanidar IV, (30-45 years old), also labelled the “flower burial”. He had been buried with the flower heads of eight species of medicinal plants: Yarrow, Cornflower, Bachelor’s Button, St. Barnaby’s Thistle, Ragwort or Groundsel, Grape Hyacinth, Joint Pine or Woody Horsetail and Hollyhock. These plants have been used in traditional herbal medicine as diuretics, stimulants, astringents and anti-inflammatories. As none of the other 9 corpses were buried with flowers, one belief was that Shanidar IV might have been a traditional healer.

If floral tributes were made for sentimental purposes, or to disguise the smell of decay, one could argue that all ten bodies, not just the one, would have been buried with flowers!


  1. jennifer devine

    Monica Wilde, this is amazing information i may have never known otherwise except i am going down a rabbit hole writing about yarrow!
    Thank you so much.

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