Shell Necklace a Sign of 100,000-Year-Old Culture

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The two perforated shell beads found in Israel, shown at different angles. i

The two perforated shell beads found in what is now Israel, shown at different angles. Image courtesy of Drs. Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico hide caption

itoggle caption Image courtesy of Drs. Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico
The two perforated shell beads found in Israel, shown at different angles.

The two perforated shell beads found in what is now Israel, shown at different angles.

Image courtesy of Drs. Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico

Scientists have found evidence that modern human culture dates back at least 100,000 years. The evidence is in the form of ancient shells collected at sites in Algeria and what is now Israel. The shells were perforated, apparently for use as personal decorations. Archeologists say that suggests people were expressing themselves with symbols — something associated with modern human culture.

Correction June 27, 2006

In the broadcast and Web version of this story, NPR stated that the snail shells were found in Israel. Strictly speaking, the snail shells were discovered in the 1930s, in what is today the state of Israel.

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