-Here is an article from an newspaper in India, regarding the
possible significance of early jewelry. Judy Bjorkman
London, Jan 5 : Researchers have determined that necklaces dating
back to almost 100,000 years, found in southern Africa and the
Middle East, represent intellect among early modern humans that
allowed them to migrate out of Africa and determined their
According to a report in The Times, perforated seashells from
Blombos Cave and possible shell beads from Sibudu Cave, both in
South Africa, date from 70,000-75,000 years ago.
Also, perforated shells bearing traces of red ochre are known
from the Grotte des Pigeons in Morocco at 82,500 years and from
Qafzeh in Israel at 90,000 years ago.
The latter were in layers that also had burials of anatomically
modern humans of Homo sapiens type, while at Skhul, near Qafzeh,
the Mousterian layers usually associated with Neanderthal man
yielded two perforated shells.
"It has been repeatedly argued that personal ornaments are one of
the innovations that emerged in Africa among early modern humans,
and that they represent behaviors that allowed them to migrate
out of Africa and determined their evolutionary success,"
according to archaeologist Solange Rigaud and her colleagues.
“The use of personal ornaments by Mousterian Neanderthals and
earlier hominids is a controversial issue,” Rigaud added.
One possibility, they suggest, is the use of naturally
perforated small fossil sponges of the species Porosphaera
globularis, a calacareous sponge that often occurs in chalky
Since the mid-19th century, it has been suggested that they were
modified or used by humans, partly because collections found
together could have been strung as necklaces and were also
unlikely to be chance collocations.
Recently, Robert Bednarik has argued that the size, shape and
perforation frequency of Porosphaera found in archaeological
contexts differ from natural assemblages, and that micro-flaking
around the holes was caused by hominid action to enlarge them.
Dr Rigaud’s team compared some of these early archaeological
specimens from the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford and the Natural
History Museum in London with later archaeological uses of the
sponges in Bronze Age and Roman times, and also with a large
sample of natural Porosphaera from the Baltic coast of Germany.
The archaeological samples were larger, and had larger holes,
than the control sample at a fairly high level of statistical
There was insufficient stratigraphic dating evidence from the
19th-century excavations, however, to confirm that the sponges
had been collected by hominids, rather than accumulated in the
same deposits as man-made tools by chance.
Nevertheless, some kind of sorting clearly occurred in the
ancient collections to produce such different ranges of size and
shape from the natural sample.