The oldest known human brain from the Old World—comprised of Europe, Asia, Africa and contiguous islands—has been discovered in Armenia, announced UCLA researcher Gregory Areshian at an annual archeological conference Sunday.
The brain dates back to the Copper age, which ran approximately 5,500 to 6,500 years ago in Eastern Europe and the Near East. Archeologists discovered the brain, believed to be that of a young girl, while excavating for relics in the past two years inside and outside of Armenia's 600-square-meter Areni-1 cave across the border from Iran.
Scientists also found an extensive array of other artifacts, including some that showed evidence of a winemaking enterprise, which suggested that significant cultural developments happened during the Copper age outside of southern Iraq, Areshian said. Many people believe southern Iraq to be the centre of civilization's developments.
The skull that had the shriveled, yet well-preserved brain was found with two others, each of which was buried in separate niches in the cave. All the skulls belonged to girls between the ages of 12 and 14.
The brain from one of the skulls (along with several artifacts) managed to keep so well because of the cave's extremely dry and stable-temperature conditions and the hard, carbonate crust of the soil layers.
Scientists have already removed red blood cells from vessels on the brain's surface for further investigation.