The first evidence of clothing manufacture discovered in a Moroccan cave

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A collection of carnivore bones found in Smugglers Cave, Morocco, were initially thought to be the remains of Pleistocene dwellers’ meals, but when archaeologists examined them further to find out what the cave’s first inhabitants ate , they discovered that the animals had been skinned for their fur and used to make clothing.

Excavations in Smugglers Cave have revealed evidence that people living here in the Middle Stone Age skinned carnivores and used them to make clothing. IMAGE: Smugglers Project 2009.

Excavations at Smugglers Cave from 2007 to 2010 found 62 bone tools used for leather and fur making in Middle Stone Age layers dating from around 120,000 to around 90 000 years. All of these bones show signs of deliberate shaping and marks of use, indicating that they had been made into tools for scraping hides to make leather and scraping hides for making fur.

Bones of wildcats, golden jackals and sand foxes were also found in the cave, bearing cut marks indicating that they had been skinned for their fur using techniques still used today. Other animal remains also found in the cave, belonging to bovidae, show different markings, suggesting that they had instead been transformed into meat.

Previous studies based on genetic studies of clothing lice have suggested that clothing was made by modern humans at least 170,000 years ago in Africa. But not much is known about the development of this tradition due to the scarcity of organic materials in the archaeological record, especially from deposits over 100,000 years old. The new study provides highly suggestive indirect evidence for the earliest creation of clothing from furs and skins in the archaeological record. However, the level of specialization found in the tools of this assemblage implies that they are part of a larger lore and developed from earlier examples that have yet to be discovered.

Also found in the cave is the tip of a cetacean tooth that appears to have been worked by humans, dating to around 113,000 years ago, representing the earliest evidence of human use of teeth from marine mammals. and further emphasizing the complex culture of the occupants. from Smugglers Cave to the Middle Stone Age.

The results of this research have been published in the journal iScience.

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