A 4,600-year-old burial has been discovered in a remote corner of northern Canada – and could hold the key to how ancient Canadians lived. The remarkable find has been made at the mouth of the Bug River, near Big Trout Lake, Ontario. Today the region is home to the Kitchenuhmaykoosik Inninuwug First Nation, an indigenous tribe numbering around 1,200.
The discovery was made by First Nation fishermen as waterlevels fell at the lake, exposing the burial. The site is currently being handled by an archaeological team from Lakehead University, Thunder Bay. The discovery is particularly rare as Canadian ethics laws largely forbid excavations.
The skeleton discovered is that of a man aged in his late-30s or 40s. Around five-and-a-half feet tall, the man had a “very, very robust muscular build,” according to team leader Prof Scott Hamilton. The man would have held high status in his day thanks to a seemingly formal burial. “There’s a flat slab of granite that’s associated directly with the bones,” adds Prof Hamilton. “It looks very much like a purposeful grave. We’ll be taking a closer look at the stone as part of our analysis to see if we can find any evidence of function.”
Another aspect due further study is a red ochre found on the man’s bones and nearby sediment. It is thought the colour was added to his body before burial, a practice seen throughout the world, including prehistoric North America.