Remains of a mother who had been buried holding her baby in her arms 4,800 years ago have been found in an ancient cemetery in central Taiwan. Archaeologists said the discovery was shocking.

"When it was unearthed, all of the archaeologists and staff members were shocked. Why? Because the mother was looking down at the baby in her hands," Chu Whei-lee of Taiwan's National Museum of Natural Science told Reuters.

The woman and the infant are among remains of 48 people found at the burial site in the Taichung area. Graves of at least five children were also unearthed during the excavation.

Excavation at the site began in 2014. Researchers could establish the relation between the woman and the infant through DNA test. Carbon dating identified the ages of the fossils.

4,800-year-old remains of mother cradling her baby found in Taiwan
4,800-year-old remains of mother cradling her baby found in Taiwan
Chu Whei-Lee oversees the cleaning a fossil of the mother and baby in Taichung City, Taiwan Reuters

Museum officials said that the remains are the earliest trace of human activity found in the region.

Archaeologists have not revealed any details further about the cemetery or the rituals that were practiced by the occupants.

The discovery that has been made just around Mother's Day is extremely rare in archaeology. In another rare find involving mother and baby, skeletal remains of a woman who died during child birth 7,000 to 8,000 years ago were found in southern Siberia. Archaeologists found partial skeletons of two nearly full-term foetuses in the woman's pelvic area and between her thighs. The find also represented the earliest documented case of death during labour as well as of human twins.