Friday, April 16, 2004


Thanks to wmconnect

Look What Was Found in Stone Age Cave History was just rewritten. Deep inside a cave on the coast of South Africa's Indian Ocean, archaeologists have found 41 collected shells with bored holes in them that are about 75,000 years old. That's proof positive that human beings fashioned ornaments and jewelry, pushing back the date by some 30,000 years that humans had the ability to make and use symbolic materials, reports The Associated Press.

The newly found cave beans were made from the shells of mollusk. Holes were bored into them and they show wear marks that indicated thread, string, or fabric was used. They also contain traces of red color, either from decoration or from rubbing against colored materials, reports AP. Henshilwood says that in traditional societies beads provide identification by gender, age, social class, and ethnic group. The ability to use language would have been essential for sharing the beads, as well as communicating their symbolic meaning.

"Evidence for an early origin of modern human behavior has long remained elusive," lead researcher Christopher Henshilwood of the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Bergen in Norway told AP. The evidence found in the Blombos cave is so well-dated that Henshilwood calls it "an unambiguous marker of modern human behavior." It's long been thought that the ability to use symbolism arose much later in human development, long after people migrated from Africa to the Middle East and Europe, notes AP. Until now, the oldest known ornaments--perforated teeth and eggshell beads from Bulgaria and Turkey--dated between 41,000 and 43,000 years. Ostrich-shell beads that are 40,000 years old have also been found in Kenya. The findings were reported in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

No comments: