End of Year Recap: Archeology News August 2009

In Morocco, shell beads have been unearthed from four different sites , leading researching to believe that early humans were constantly wearing and most likely trading jewelry with symbolic meaning. Other headlines in August 2009 include ancient human rituals centered on eating.

Early Fashion Trends

The practice of shell trading and beaded embellishments may have a history that traces back 80,000 years ago. Bead traditions have been found in Algeria, Morocco, Israel and South Africa, confirming that this type of personal ornamentation is the oldest form.

A team of researchers has uncovered 25 marine shell beads that have a history that traces back to around 70,000 to 85,000 years ago. Thanks to the efforts of the European Science Foundation EUROCORES program ‘Origin of Man, Language and Languages,’ we will learn much more about the traditions and practices of ancient dwellers. The newly discovered shells display man-made holes that have been drilled through the center of the pieces. Some show signs of pigment, while others were clearly worn longer than others , possibly someone’s favorite piece of jewelry?

Early Human Food Rituals

When we think of the diet of an early human, we may imagine foragers bringing home baskets of berries or hunters scanning the terrain for fresh meat. The Science Daily reported a discovery made by a University of Arizona anthropologist, which involves the rituals of sharing meals amongst early humans. By taking a look at details left behind in a Paleolithic cave site in central Israel that dates back between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago, the success of big-game hunters is evident. Early and late stone-age hunters were able to kill a suitable amount of meat. However, the way the meat was shared is a different story.

Earlier hunters from the Lower Paleolithic era were skilled at hunting large game animals just as much as the later age humans who lived during the Upper Paleolithic era. Large game was a primary component of the diets during these ages and it seems that the Qesem Cave dwellers liked to hunt with one another. When they made a kill, they returned to the cave with the best cuts of meat. Using stone blade cutting tools, the meat was sectioned off for cooking over a fire.

The cut marks of deer, horse and other animal bones revealed the evolution of the hunter. Earlier hunters were less efficient in carving the flesh from their prey and did not use specialized techniques as seen in later examples of hunting. This also has something to do with the kinds of tools they used. The variation in cut marks in later bone remains show that many different hands cut meat for feeding, which suggests that perhaps social ritual or formal rules to sharing meat had developed in later years.