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J Hum Evol. 2009 Mar;56(3):307-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.10.005.

Shells and ochre in Middle Paleolithic Qafzeh Cave, Israel: indications for modern behavior.

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The Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies and Department of Maritime Civilizations, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.


Qafzeh Cave, the burial grounds of several anatomically modern humans, producers of Mousterian industry, yielded archaeological evidence reflecting their modern behavior. Dated to 92ka BP, the lower layers at the site contained a series of hearths, several human graves, flint artifacts, animal bones, a collection of sea shells, lumps of red ochre, and an incised cortical flake. The marine shells were recovered from layers earlier than most of the graves except for one burial. The shells were collected and brought from the Mediterranean Sea shore some 35km away, and are complete Glycymeris bivalves, naturally perforated. Several valves bear traces of having been strung, and a few had ochre stains on them.

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