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Lebanese shell beads link earliest humans to Middle East

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Recently discovered shell beads from Lebanon link the earliest “modern” humans to the Middle East, according to findings by Oxford University.

The University of Oxford team radiocarbon dated 20 marine shells from archaeological layers at Ksar Akil, north of Beirut, according to the Daily Mail.

The research suggested that the unearthed beads made from shells that may be around 41,700 to 42,400 years old and may have been used as jewelry or as decoration.

It is likely that the central positioning of the Middle East it what makes it the ideal crossroads between Africa, Europe and Asia for early humans.

Oxford archaeologist Katerina Douka suggested that the Middle East is a region where scholars are attempting to find early evidence of anatomically and behaviorally modern humans, who left Africa and replaced Eurasian Neanderthal populations that lived there for more than 150,000 years.

“It is possible that instead of the Near East being the single point of origin for modern humans heading for Europe, they may also have used other routes too,”she said.