The 3D imaging results revealed that the child survived head trauma for several years, but suffered from permanent brain damage as a result.

Growth in teeth showed that the child was about 12-13 years old during the time of death.

The child's brain volume was more similar to that of a six- or seven-year-old.

"People cared for him/her for years which shows that it is the most ancient evidence of compassion and altruism," said Helene Coqueugniot from University of Bordeaux in France.

The skeleton was uncovered in a cave site known as Qafzeh in Galilee, Israel. The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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