Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oldest-Known Shell Beads Found In South Africa Show Modern Human Behaviour

19.04.2004


Researchers have found perforated shells that appear to be beads dating back 76,000 years ago, causing the development of language and symbolic communication to be older than previously thought by 30,000 years.

The 41 tick shells, punctured with holes of roughly one centimetre across in the same place, were found at Blombos Cave site, 300 km east of Cape Town, South Africa, by Christopher Henshilwood, a professor at the Centre for Development Studies of the University of Bergen in Norway, and his team. Their results are published in this Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

Until now, the oldest beads found in Africa were about 45,000-years-old. It was at this time modern human behaviour—a key aspect being symbolic communication—was believed to have arisen, according to the then-dominant theory. However, the new shell find supports modern human behaviour developing earlier, more gradually throughout the Middle Stone Age.



Found in clusters of 2 to 17, the shells are of a tiny mollusc (Nassarius kraussianus) that lived in estuaries. The team ruled out the possibility that they were deposited there naturally. Shells in the same group display a similar size, shade, and perforation size. They also have a similar use-wear pattern, consistent with friction from rubbing against thread, clothes or other beads. Microscopic residues of ochre detected inside the shells suggest the beads were in contact with something coloured red.

It is believed that full syntactical language is a requisite to share and transmit the symbolic meaning of beadworks and abstract engravings such as those at Blombos Cave. Last year, the same cave also yielded two pieces of 77,000-year-old ochre cut with abstract patterns.

The team’s work is part of a European Science Foundation EUROCORES programme, Origin of Man, Language and Languages, the largest interdisciplinary effort in Europe to study language and its development. The work was also funded by the National Science Foundation (US), the South African National Research Foundation, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), the University of Bergen (Norway), the Anglo-Americans Chairman’s Fund and the British Council.

Jens Degett | ESF
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/esf_pressarea_page.php?newsrelease=74&

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA eyes Pineapple Express soaking California
24.02.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht 'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field
23.02.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>