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  Ostrich eggshell beads reveal 50,000-year-old social network in Africa

Miller, J. M., & Wang, Y. (2021). Ostrich eggshell beads reveal 50,000-year-old social network in Africa. Nature, s41586-021-04227-2. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04227-2.

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 Creators:
Miller, Jennifer M.1, Author              
Wang, Yiming1, Author              
Affiliations:
1Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2074312              

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Free keywords: Archaeology, Palaeoclimate
 Abstract: Humans evolved in a patchwork of semi-connected populations across Africa1,2; understanding when and how these groups connected is critical to interpreting our present-day biological and cultural diversity. Genetic analyses reveal that eastern and southern African lineages diverged sometime in the Pleistocene epoch, approximately 350–70 thousand years ago (ka)3,4; however, little is known about the exact timing of these interactions, the cultural context of these exchanges or the mechanisms that drove their separation. Here we compare ostrich eggshell bead variations between eastern and southern Africa to explore population dynamics over the past 50,000 years. We found that ostrich eggshell bead technology probably originated in eastern Africa and spread southward approximately 50–33 ka via a regional network. This connection breaks down approximately 33 ka, with populations remaining isolated until herders entered southern Africa after 2 ka. The timing of this disconnection broadly corresponds with the southward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which caused periodic flooding of the Zambezi River catchment (an area that connects eastern and southern Africa). This suggests that climate exerted some influence in shaping human social contact. Our study implies a later regional divergence than predicted by genetic analyses, identifies an approximately 3,000-kilometre stylistic connection and offers important new insights into the social dimension of ancient interactions.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2021-12-20
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: 8
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: Regional and chronological bead metrics
Discussion
- Stylistic connection at 50–33 ka
- Disconnection and climatic links
- Human resilience and regional adaptions
- Perspective
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04227-2
Other: shh3115
 Degree: -

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Title: Nature
  Abbreviation : Nature
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: London : Nature Publishing Group
Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: s41586-021-04227-2 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0028-0836
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925427238