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Manwon Lender

Crystals and eggshells tell a 105,000-year-old story of humans in the Kalahari Desert

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Manwon Lender

In a study published in Nature, researchers found calcite crystals and ostrich eggshell fragments that show signs indicating that humans collected them. Not only is it difficult to find deposits in layers of rocks like these, it is even more unusual to find deposits that are this ancient—these finds are estimated to be around 105,000 years old. The closest source that we found for these kinds of crystals are over two kilometers [1.25 miles] away,” says Ben Schoville, a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland who helped lead the search for the crystals. “So we know that people were bringing them in. And when we excavated them, we actually found most of them in a pretty small area the size of a basketball.” 


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The discovery of extremely old stone-age tools and crystals at a rock shelter in the southern Kalahari Desert may change scientists’ understanding of early human culture in Africa.

The 105,000-year-old items found at the inland site of Ga-Mohana Hill in South Africa reflect cultural development on par with previously reported human activity on Africa’s coast around the same time period, Science News’s Bruce Bower reports.

Because few sites of human cultural activity are known from that long ago it’s unclear whether the developments in different regions are related or emerged independently.


Innovative Homo sapiens behaviours 105,000 years ago in a wetter Kalahari


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