Perforated shells, dating back 150,000 years, are believed to be the world’s oldest jewelry. Assumed to have formed necklaces and bracelets, they were discovered by archaeologists in the Bizmoune cave near the coastal resort of Essaouira in Morocco, AFP reported.
Researchers unveiled the jewelry on Thursday as the country commemorated Independence Day. Several necklaces and bracelets made of small pierced shells colored with red ochre were showcased.
“Today we’re presenting a find made in Bizmoune cave 15 kilometers from the town of Essaouira, this discovery corresponds to thirty sea shells perforated and inked also, meaning that humans applied a red substance rich in iron oxide to these shells,” Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, teacher-researcher at INSAP (Institut National des Sciences de l’A rchéologie et du Patrimoine) said.
The discovery was made by an international team composed of INSAP in Rabat, the University of Arizona (Tucson, USA), and the Mediterranean Laboratory of Prehistory Europe Africa. In all, the researchers identified about thirty shells including bracelets and necklaces.
“The age of the shells is from 150,000 years, currently that means they’re the oldest known in the world, the second implication is that this is the first time that humans used their bodies as a means to communicate among themselves or with members of other groups more or less distant from their place of origin,” researcher Bouzouggar said.
Bouzouggar went on to describe the shells as “symbolic objects that can only be transmitted through language.” He and other researchers believe that some of the necklaces discovered were used as a form of communication in ancient times.
Morocco’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Communication, Mehdi Bensaid, has said that such discoveries “contribute to the unveiling of human history as a whole, and makes Moroccans aware of the ample treasures the Kingdom has to offer the world.”
It will be recalled that archaeologists recently found a cave in Morocco that shows when humans may have started making clothes. A study published in September in the journal iScience says archaeologists have discovered ancient bone tools in a Moroccan cave that they believe were used to work leather and fur into garments between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago.
The items from Contrebandiers Cave, located roughly 800 feet from the Atlantic coastline in the town of Temara, seem to be the oldest-known evidence for clothing in the archaeological record, according to the study.