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MOROCCO - World's Oldest Manufactured Beads Are Older Than Thought

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Bianca
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« on: May 08, 2009, 07:22:46 am »










                        World’s Oldest Manufactured Beads Are Older Than Previously Thought






ScienceDaily
(May 7, 2009)

— A team of archaeologists has uncovered some of the world’s earliest shell ornaments in a limestone cave in Eastern Morocco. The researchers have found 47 examples of Nassarius marine shells, most of them perforated and including examples covered in red ochre, at the Grotte des Pigeons at Taforalt.

The fingernail-size shells, already known from 82,000-year-old Aterian deposits in the cave, have now been found in even earlier layers. While the team is still awaiting exact dates for these layers, they believe this discovery makes them arguably the earliest shell ornaments in prehistory.

The shells are currently at the centre of a debate concerning the origins of modern behaviour in early humans. Many archaeologists regard the shell bead ornaments as proof that anatomically modern humans had developed a sophisticated symbolic material culture. Up until now, Blombos cave in South Africa has been leading the ‘bead race’ with 41 Nassarius shell beads that can confidently be dated to 72,000 years ago.

Aside from this latest discovery unearthing an even greater number of beads, the research team says the most striking aspect of the Taforalt discoveries is that identical shell types should appear in two such geographically distant regions. As well as Blombos, there are now at least four other Aterian sites in Morocco with Nassarius shell beads. The newest evidence, in a paper by the authors to be published in the next few weeks in the Journal of Quaternary Science Reviews, shows that the Aterian in Morocco dates back to at least 110,000 years ago.

Research team leader, Professor Nick Barton, from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: ‘These new finds are exciting because they show that bead manufacturing probably arose independently in different cultures and confirms a long suspected pattern that humans with modern symbolic behaviour were present from a very early stage at both ends of the continent, probably as early as 110,000 years ago.’

Also leading the research team Dr Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, from the Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine in Morocco, said: ‘The archaeological and chronological contexts of the Taforalt discoveries suggest a much longer tradition of bead-making than previously suspected, making them perhaps the earliest such ornaments in the world.’

Archaeologists widely believe that humans in Europe first started fashioning purely symbolic objects about 40,000 years ago, but in Africa this latest evidence shows that humans were engaged in this activity at least 40,000 years before this.

Excavations in April 2009 also continued in the upper levels of Taforalt to investigate a large well-preserved cemetery dating to around 12,500 years ago. The project, co-ordinated by Dr Louise Humphrey, from the Natural History Museum in London, has found adult as well as infant burials at the site. The infant burials throw an interesting light on early burial traditions as many of the infants seem to be buried singly beneath distinctive blue stones with the undersides smeared with red ochre. By contrast, studies by Dr Elaine Turner of the Römisch Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz, show that the adults’ grave pits were generally marked by the horn cores of wild barbary sheep. Taforalt remains the largest necropolis of the Late Stone Age period in North Africa presently under excavation.

Professor Barton said: ‘Taking our new discovery of the shell beads at Taforalt, together with the discoveries of the decorated burials excavated by Dr Louise Humphrey, it shows that the cave must have retained its special interest for different groups of people over many thousands of years. One of its unique attractions and a focal point of interest seems to have been a freshwater spring that rises next to the cave.’


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adapted from materials provided by University of Oxford.
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 MLA University of Oxford (2009, May 7). World’s Oldest Manufactured Beads Are Older Than Previously Thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 8, 2009, from



http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/05/090505163021.htm
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2009, 07:37:59 am »









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                               Morocco: Prehistoric shells oldest adornments ever found






« on: June 07, 2007, 02:12:37 pm » Quote 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Morocco: Prehistoric shells oldest adornments ever found


POSTED: 11:00 a.m. EDT, June 6, 2007

Story Highlights•




                Perforated shells discovered in a limestone cave in Morocco are 82,000 years old
   



• Moroccan government says they are the oldest adornments ever found

• The shells were probably pierced to be strung into necklaces or bracelets

• They were found and dated by a team from Morocco, Britain, France and Germany


RABAT,
Morocco
(Reuters)

 -- Perforated shells discovered in a limestone cave in eastern Morocco are the oldest adornments
ever found and show humans used symbols in Africa 40,000 years before Europe, the kingdom's government said.

The small oval Nassarius mollusc shells, some dyed with red ochre, were probably pierced to be
strung into necklaces or bracelets 82,000 years ago.

"This classes the adornments in Pigeon's Cave at Taforalt as older than those discovered previously
 in Algeria, South Africa and Palestine," the Culture Ministry said in a statement.

The find represents "a big step in the understanding of cultural innovations and the role they played
in human history".

Morocco has yielded important prehistoric finds including one of the oldest known dinosaur skeletons
 but little is known of the humans that inhabited the region before Berber farmers settled over 2,000 years ago.

The shells were found and dated by a team of scientists from Morocco, Britain, France and Germany trying to find out how climate and landscape change affected human behavior between 130,000 and 13,000 years ago.

The work is part of a broader study into whether the Strait of Gibraltar dividing Morocco from Spain acted as a corridor or a barrier for early humans trying to move between Africa and Europe.

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten,
or redistributed.



http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/06/06/prehistoric.necklaces.reut/index.html
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Bianca
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2009, 07:48:41 am »



Dating from 82 000 years ago, these beads are thought to be the oldest in the world.

(Credit:
Copyright

Marian Vanhaeren
& Francesco d'Errico
/ CNRS 2007)






                                     Discovery Of The Oldest Adornments In The World







ScienceDaily
(June 18, 2007)

— The discovery of small perforated sea shells, in the Cave of Pigeons in Taforalt, eastern Morocco,
has shown that the use of bead adornments in North Africa is older than thought. Dating from 82 000
years ago, the beads are thought to be the oldest in the world. As adornments, together with art,
burial and the use of pigments, are considered to be among the most conclusive signs of the acqui-
sition of symbolic thought and of modern cognitive abilities, this study is leading researchers to question their ideas about the origins of modern humans. The study was carried out by a multidisciplinary team made up of researchers at CNRS, working with scientists from Morocco, the UK, Australia and Germany.

It was long thought that the oldest adornments, which were then dated as being 40 000 years old,
came from Europe and the Middle East. However, since the discovery of 75 000 year-old carved beads
and ochers in South Africa, this idea has been challenged, and all the more so with the recent discovery
in Morocco of beads that are over 80 000 years old. The discoveries all indicate the presence of a much older symbolic material culture in Africa than in Europe or the Middle East.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 07:54:01 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2009, 07:57:50 am »









Dated at 82 000 years old, the beads, which were unearthed by archaeologists in the Cave of Pigeons in Taforalt, north-east Morocco, consist of 13 shells belonging to the species Nassarius gibbosulus. The shells have been deliberately perforated, and some of them are still covered with red ocher. They were discovered in the remains of hearths, associated with abundant traces of human activity such as stone tools and animal remains . The mollusks were found in a stratigraphic sequence formed of ashy sediments. They were dated independently by two laboratories using four different techniques, which confirmed an age of 82 000 years.

Led by Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, researcher at the National Institute of Archaeological and Heritage Sciences (INSAP, Morocco)and Nick Barton of the University of Oxford (UK), a multidisciplinary team has been carrying out an in-depth study of the site for the past five years. Two CNRS researchers have been especially involved in the study of the shells: Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico, belonging respectively to the 'From prehistory to the present: culture, environment and anthropology' unit



(PACEA, CNRS
/ Université Bordeaux 1 / INRAP /
Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication) and the
'Archaeologies and sciences of Antiquity' unit


(ArScAn, CNRS
/ Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication /
Universités Paris 1 and 10).



They were thus able to reveal that the shells had been gathered when dead, on the beaches of Morocco, which at that time were located over 40 km from the Cave of Pigeons. By taking into account the distance of the coast at that time and the comparison with natural alteration of shells of the same species on today's beaches, the two scientists inferred that prehistoric humans had selected, transported and very probably perforated the shells and colored them red for a symbolic use. Moreover, some shells showed traces of wear, which suggests that they were used as adornments for a long time: they were very likely worn as necklaces or bracelets, or sewn onto clothes.

Noticing that the beads belong to the same species of shell and bear the same type of perforation as those uncovered in previous excavations at the paleolothic sites at Skhul in Israel and at Oued Djebbana in Algeria , Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico were thus able to confirm the validity of these two discoveries. Everything therefore seems to indicate that 80 000 years ago the populations of the eastern and southern Mediterranean shared the same symbolic traditions. To back up this hypothesis they point to other sites in Morocco where Nassarius gibbosulus beads from the same period are also found.

In addition, the two researchers point out that there is a remarkable difference between the oldest beads from Africa and the Near East on the one hand, and from Eurasia on the other. Unlike Africa and the Near East, where only one or two types of shell are found, in Eurasia from the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic onwards tens or even hundreds of different types of beads have been described.






Reference:

82,000-year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications for the origins of modern human behavior,



Abdeljalil Bouzouggar,

Nick Barton,

Marian Vanhaeren,

Francesco d'Errico,

Simon Collcutt,

Tom Higham,

Edward Hodge,

Simon Parfitt,

Edward Rhodes,

Jean-Luc Schwenninger,

Chris Stringer,

Elaine Turner,

Steven Ward,

Abdelkrim Moutmir, and

Abdelhamid Stambouli.



PNAS,
4 Juin 2007,
10.1073.
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Bianca
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2009, 07:59:48 am »








Additional Information



1) Among the stone tools associated with the shells there are sharp biface points that are typical of Aterian technology in North Africa. They were probably used as spearheads. The animal bones were left-over food remains and are mainly identified as wild horses and hares.

2) A stratigraphic sequence is a sequence of strata.

3) These beads were attributed by the same authors to archeological strata at the site dating back 100 000 years, based on geochemical analysis of material stuck to the shells. However, the date of the first digs at the site (which were carried out in the 1930's) made it impossible to formally prove the stratigraphic provenance of the objects. This study resulted in an article in Science in June 2006.

4) The bead found at this site came from an archeological stratum more than 40 000 years old, and was dates thanks to stone tools found in the same location: the tools are typical of the period dating from 60 000 to 90 000 years before the modern era.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adapted from materials provided by CNRS.
Email or share this story:    Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:
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 MLA CNRS (2007, June 18). Discovery Of The Oldest Adornments In The World. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 8, 2009, from



http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2007/06/070618091210.htm
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2009, 10:23:42 pm »

Cave of Pigeons where shells were found.

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