Thursday, December 8, 2011

77,000-Year-Old Bedding and Bug-Repellant Discovered is Earliest Known Ever Found at South African Rock Shelter

""Humans were making themselves comfy on plant mattresses as long as 77,000 years ago, a study has found.

Scientists discovered early evidence of bedding made from compacted stems and leaves at a rock shelter in South Africa.

At least three different layers at the Sibudu site contained bed remains, left by generations of people who slept there between 38,000 and 77,000 years ago.

The oldest of the sleeping mats was especially well preserved, consisting of fossilised sedge stems and leaves covered by a paper-thin leaf layer.

As well as providing a place to sleep, the leaves contained insecticide chemicals that would have kept mosquitoes at bay.

"The selection of these leaves for the construction of bedding suggests that the early inhabitants of Sibudu had an intimate knowledge of the plants surrounding the shelter, and were aware of their medicinal uses," said team leader Professor Lyn Wadley, from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

The compacted plant layers may also have been used as work surfaces, said the researchers who report their findings in the journal Science.""
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