Friday, December 9, 2011
Rock Shelter Inhabitants Slept in Comfort 77,000 Years Ago
The Sibudu rock shelter sits above the uThongathi river in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Here, archaeologists have over the past decade uncovered finds that have shed fascinating light on the behavior and life-ways of early modern humans. Finds have included perforated shells interpreted to have been used like bead ornaments, sharpened bone points likely used for hunting, evidence of bow and arrow technology, and even snares and traps for hunting and glue production for the hafting of stone implements. Now, an international team of scientists have discovered within the shelter what they believe to be mats that were used as bedding and as a living surface.
Led by Professor Lyn Wadley of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in collaboration with Christopher Miller of the University of Tübingen, Germany, Christine Sievers and Marion Bamford of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Paul Goldberg and Francesco Berna of Boston University, USA, the team has revealed at least 15 layers containing what they suggest to be deliberately laid plant bedding dated from 77,000 to 38,000 years ago. Consisting of layers of compacted leaves and stems from rushes and sedges spread out up to three square meters, at least some of the bedding contained evidence of plants that are also known to have medicinal and insecticidal properties.
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