According to archaeologists, our forefathers may have started manufacturing garments with bone tools some 120,000 years ago. Archaeologists unearthed ancient bone tools in a Moroccan cave, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal iScience, that they believe were used to manipulate leather and fur into clothes between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago.
According to the study, the objects from Contrebandiers Cave, which is located about 800 feet from the Atlantic shore in the town of Temara, appear to be the oldest-known evidence for clothes in the archaeological record.
“I wasn’t expecting to find them,” says the narrator. Emily Yuko Hallett, a postdoctoral scientist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History’s Pan African Evolution Research Group, said, “I was investigating this assemblage first to look at the animal bones to recreate the human diet.”
“And while I was going through them — there were roughly 12,000 animal bones — I began to notice some bones that were unusually shaped. It wasn’t a naturally occurring shape. They had a sheen to them, they were shiny, and they had striations (grooves or scratches),” Hallett, one of the study’s authors, remarked.
Scientists previously estimated that Homo sapiens began wearing clothing roughly 170,000 years ago. However, according to this new study, the process of creating those garments advanced 50,000 years later.
According to the experts, there were a total of 62 ancient bone tools discovered in Morocco’s Contrebandiers Cave. “The shape and use marks on these bone tools show that they were used for scraping hides to make leather and scraping pelts to make fur,” Hallett added.
“At the same time, I discovered a pattern of cut marks on carnivore bones from Contrebandiers Cave that suggested humans were skinning carnivores for their fur rather than preparing them for meat.”
Fur, leather, and other organic clothing materials are perishable and largely unpreserved, hence researchers did not locate any authentic archaic clothes at the site. The tools, however, were manufactured between 120,000 and 90,000 years ago, when the cave was populated by members of our species, according to the study.
It’s unclear when clothing became popular. However, scholars believe that Neanderthals, who lived 400,000 years ago, long before Homo sapiens, made clothing to defend themselves from the cold climates in which they lived.
According to the latest research, clothing was not worn by modern people until at least 170,000 years ago in Africa. And, because fur and other organic materials are rarely preserved, it’s still unclear what such garments looked like or whether they were worn for protection or symbolism.
Bone needles dating from 45,000 to 40,000 years ago from Siberia were some of the oldest evidence for Homo sapiens clothing before this study. The authors of this new study speculate that our species created garments thousands of years before the tools discovered in the Moroccan cave, but they have no evidence to back this up.