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Sun Jul 12, 2020, 03:44 AM

New Research Suggests Humans Invented String at Least 120,000 Years Ago

Marks found on ancient shells indicate that they were laced together to create necklaces

By Alex Fox
JULY 10, 2020

More than 120,000 years ago, humans living in what is now Israel were collecting shells and threading them onto pieces of string—perhaps to be worn as jewelry, according to new research.

Scientists led by Daniella Bar-Yosef Mayer, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, found that naturally perforated shells discovered beneath human burials in the Qafzeh Cave in northern Israel show microscopic signs of wear consistent with having been strung together, reports Ariel David for Haaretz.

The team’s findings, published this week in the journal PLOS One, narrow down the invention of string to sometime between 160,000 and 120,000 years ago.

“The timing of the invention of strings is of significance beyond the desire to adorn oneself,” says Bar-Yosef Mayer in a statement quoted by the Jerusalem Post’s Rossella Tercatin.

Developing string was crucial for subsequent innovations including “hunting traps and fishing nets, archery for hunting with arrows, fishing using hooks, and other various practices related to sailing—for example, tying logs of wood to create rafts, as well as several uses connected to clothing,” the archaeologist adds.


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