Evidência adicional sobre o uso de ornamentos pessoais no Paleolítico médio do norte da África

terça-feira, setembro 22, 2009

Additional evidence on the use of personal ornaments in the Middle Paleolithic of North Africa

Francesco d'Erricoa,b,1, Marian Vanhaeren c, Nick Barton d, Abdeljalil Bouzouggar e, Henk Mienis f, Daniel Richter g, Jean-Jacques Hublin g, Shannon P. McPherron g and Pierre Lozouet h

+ Author Affiliations

aCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5199, De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie, University of Bordeaux, Talence 33405, France;

bInstitute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2050 WITS, South Africa;

cEthnologie préhistorique, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Unité Mixte de Recherche 7041, Archéologies et Sciences de l'Antiquite, Nanterre 92023, France;

dInstitute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2PG, United Kingdom;

eInstitut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine, Hay Riad, Madinat Al Irfane, 10 000 Rabat, Morocco;

fNational Natural History Collections, Berman Building, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 01904, Israel;

gDepartment of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig 04103, Germany; and

hCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Propre de l'Enseignement Supérieur Associee 8044, Laboratoire de Biologie des Invertébrés Marins et de Malacologie, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris 75005, France

Edited by Richard G. Klein, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, and approved July 16, 2009 (received for review March 31, 2009)


Recent investigations into the origins of symbolism indicate that personal ornaments in the form of perforated marine shell beads were used in the Near East, North Africa, and SubSaharan Africa at least 35 ka earlier than any personal ornaments in Europe. Together with instances of pigment use, engravings, and formal bone tools, personal ornaments are used to support an early emergence of behavioral modernity in Africa, associated with the origin of our species and significantly predating the timing for its dispersal out of Africa. Criticisms have been leveled at the low numbers of recovered shells, the lack of secure dating evidence, and the fact that documented examples were not deliberately shaped. In this paper, we report on 25 additional shell beads from four Moroccan Middle Paleolithic sites. We review their stratigraphic and chronological contexts and address the issue of these shells having been deliberately modified and used. We detail the results of comparative analyses of modern, fossil, and archaeological assemblages and microscopic examinations of the Moroccan material. We conclude that Nassarius shells were consistently used for personal ornamentation in this region at the end of the last interglacial. Absence of ornaments at Middle Paleolithic sites postdating Marine Isotope Stage 5 raises the question of the possible role of climatic changes in the disappearance of this hallmark of symbolic behavior before its reinvention 40 ka ago. Our results suggest that further inquiry is necessary into the mechanisms of cultural transmission within early Homo sapiens populations.

Aterian behavioral modernity Homo sapiens Nassarius symbolism


1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: f.derrico@ipgq.u-bordeaux1.fr

Author contributions: F.d., M.V., and N.B. designed research; F.d., M.V., N.B., H.M., D.R., J.-J.H., S.P.M., and P.L. performed research; F.d., M.V., and H.M. analyzed data; and F.d., M.V., N.B., and S.P.M. wrote the paper.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/0903532106/DCSupplemental.


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