Archaeologists in Morocco have discovered clothes-making tools fashioned from bone dating back 120,000 years, the oldest ever found, one of the researchers said. Moroccan archaeologist, Abdeljalil El Hajraoui said it is a major discovery in the history of clothes-making.
“It’s a major discovery because while older bone tools have been found elsewhere, it’s the first time we have identified bone tools (this old) that were used to make clothing”.Moroccan archaeologist , Abdeljalil El Hajraoui
The international team discovered more than 60 tools in Contrebandiers (Smugglers) Cave, less than 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the North African country’s capital. The team wrote in a study published in the journal iScience that the tools had been “intentionally shaped for specific tasks that included leather and fur working”.
The discovery could help answer questions on the origins of modern human behavior, said El Hajraoui.
“Sewing is a behavior that has lasted since prehistory. Tools like those discovered in the cave were used for 30,000 years, which proves the emergence of collective memory”.El Hajraoui
The iScience paper predicted that “given the level of specialization of the bone tool material culture at Contrebandiers Cave, it is likely that earlier examples will be found”.
Other archeological discoveries
The team also discovered living spaces dug into the ground or built in the cave, as well as perforated seashells apparently used as ornaments. Based on the findings, El Hajraoui called for further probing, saying “this was a cultural evolution that still needs study”.
Morocco has been the location of a number of significant archaeological findings. On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, the country’s Culture Ministry announced that researchers in a cave near Essaouira, about 400 kilometres southwest of Rabat, had discovered a collection of about 30 shaped marine snail shells dating back as much as 150,000 years.
In a statement, the Culture Ministry said they were “the oldest ornaments ever discovered“. That followed an announcement in July when archaeologists revealed the discovery of North Africa’s oldest Stone Age hand-axe manufacturing site, dating back 1.3 million years.
The discovery, researchers say, dated back hundreds of thousands of years, the start date in North Africa of the Acheulian stone-tool industry associated with a key human ancestor, Homo erectus. The stone tool-industry was discovered during excavations at a quarry on the outskirts of Morocco’s economic capital, Casablanca.
This “contributes to enriching the debate on the emergence of the Acheulian in Africa”, said Abderrahim Mohib, the co-director of the Franco-Moroccan prehistory of Casablanca program.
Previously, the presence in Morocco of the Acheulian stone-tool industry was thought to date back 700,000 years. The discoveries at the Thomas Quarry I site, made famous in 1969 when a human half mandible was discovered in a cave, means the Acheulian there is almost twice as old.
In 2017, the discovery of five fossils at Jebel Irhoud in Morocco, estimated at 300,000 years old, overturned evolutionary science when they were designated Homo sapiens.
The Moroccan fossils were, however, much older than some with similar facial characteristics excavated from Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, dating back about 195,000 years.
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