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Middle Paleolithic Shell Beads in Israel and Algeria

Science  23 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5781, pp. 1785-1788
DOI: 10.1126/science.1128139

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Abstract

Perforated marine gastropod shells at the western Asian site of Skhul and the North African site of Oued Djebbana indicate the early use of beads by modern humans in these regions. The remoteness of these sites from the seashore and a comparison of the shells to natural shell assemblages indicate deliberate selection and transport by humans for symbolic use. Elemental and chemical analyses of sediment matrix adhered to one Nassarius gibbosulus from Skhul indicate that the shell bead comes from a layer containing 10 human fossils and dating to 100,000 to 135,000 years ago, about 25,000 years earlier than previous evidence for personal decoration by modern humans in South Africa.

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