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Eggshell beads made by hunter-gatherers 33,000 years ago used as a social network

March 10, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherers took the remains of ostrich eggshells and made them into decorative beads. It turns out they were exchanging them over large distances and long periods of time to form a type of social network with other groups.

(CNN)Thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherers took the remains of ostrich eggshells and made them into decorative beads.

The beads tell a story of gift exchanges over great distances -- an early social network 30,000 years ago.

Modern hunter-gatherer societies, like those in southern Africa's Kalahari Desert, use ostrich eggshell beads to begin and maintain a relationship with other groups.

"These ornaments were consistently coming from very long distances," said Brian Stewart, study author and University of Michigan paleolithic archaeologist. "The oldest bead in our sample had the third highest strontium isotope value, so it is also one of the most exotic. "

"Humans are just outlandishly social animals, and that goes back to [sharing this] information that would have been useful for living in a hunter-gatherer society 30,000 years ago and earlier," said Stewart.

Stewart also believes the beads were exchanged during a time of climate shifts, between 25,000 and 59,000 years ago.

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