This November 18, archaeologists and the Moroccan Minister of Culture revealed to the public an incredible discovery: 150 000 years old shell necklaces. This new find could call into question everything the scientific community thought it knew about the evolution of the human species since prehistoric times.
An unprecedented discovery
“When writings are missing, stones speak” said Jacques Boucher de Perthes, a French historian from the XVIIIth century. And this is what could perfectly summarize the discovery of paleontologists in the Bizmoune cave, near Essaouira, in Morocco.
Several ornaments dated to 150,000 years ago were found by a group of American researchers from the University of Arizona, and Moroccans from INSAP, in Rabat.
According to the Moroccan researcher Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, such ornaments show that “for the first time, humans have used their body as a medium, either to communicate with each other, or with members of other groups, more or less distant from their place of origin.”
Indeed, the particularity of this find does not only lie in its age (150,000 years!), but also in what it reveals about our homo-sapiens ancestors. Far from being mere primitive hunters, the discovery of these necklaces shows that they were sensitive to art, and concerned with communicating through objects and decorative attires. “These are symbolic objects, and symbols, unlike tools, can only be transmitted through a language,” said Bouzouggar.
Beyond an essential discovery for our knowledge of prehistoric men, it is also further evidence that Morocco would have housed the first human species. “These discoveries remind us of the common history of humanity, and show that Morocco has been a crossroads of civilizations,” said the Minister of Culture, Mohamed Bensaid.
Further research will be conducted in the cave and its surroundings to learn more about these prehistoric civilizations.