Lost Stone Age childrenLost Stone Age Children Rediscovered: New Evidence Unveiled

Christian Tryon, a professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut, knew the stone tools, but not the teeth.

He was looking at a photo of just that, an ancient gear found at a decades-old archaeological site in Lebanon. The photograph was taken from the papers of a close associate of Rev. J. Franklin Ewing, the original leader of the expedition.

The path to Egbert

At first, Tryon thought the teeth belonged to the remains of an ancient child named “Egbert” by Ewing, bones long thought lost.

Tryon showed the photo and others to his research partner, Shara Bailey, director of the Center for the Study of Human Origins at New York University. An expert on teeth, she noticed the subtle differences in them that should come from two individuals, according to article in UConn today.

Tryon and Bailey have tried to collect all the evidence they can about the ill-fated dig, which dug through 75 feet of sediment at the site of the stone shelter and uncovered millions of artifacts and fossils.

The site contained many things, but a second child?

Side by side

For his part, Ewing had only briefly mentioned a second child in a 1947 document, in unpublished letters and in photographs of teeth and bones from the site. The ancients buried the first child next to the second, which Ewing found the first under a pile of stones.

Looking at the available images — including radiographs of the first child’s teeth — Tryon and Bailey estimated the children to be between 7 and 8 years old based on their dental development. They were likely Homo sapiensconcluded the study, who lived about 40,000 years ago, during Upper Paleolithictime he saw the emergence of several major Stone Age cultures.

“Given that there are only a handful of human fossils from Upper Paleolithic sites in the Mediterranean region,” Tryon said UConn today“I knew we had something exciting.”

Plus, it was a fossil record from the Levant, a region especially valuable because its inhabitants lived at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, where Homo sapiens arose.

Missing bones

How exactly did the children’s bones disappear in the first place, learning doesn’t say, but the wreckage crossed the Atlantic at least twice before disappearing into thin air.

The first excavations at the site ended in 1938, and Ewing then fled the outbreak of World War II by traveling to the Philippines. But first, he and the other researchers encased the human remains in concrete and buried them in the ground.

Instead of proceeding to the US, Ewing encountered Japanese forces in the Philippines and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp. After the conflict ended, someone sent the concrete-encased remains to Harvard, including the fossils of the two children, to undergo proper classification.

At some point in the 1950s or 1960s, Ewing sent them to the National Museum of Beirut, and from there the trail went cold, or at least tepid. The remains of an elderly man from the Ewing site were found in the museum’s storage room and re-accounted for.

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