The African nation has a medsos since 50 thousand years ago


Thousands of years before there are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok, the existence of small beads help Africans establish social relations. You can say, beads are social media (Medsos) in that age.

A study for a decade of more than 1,500 beads made of ostrich eggs and found throughout Africa, revealed a social network of 50 thousand years.

Beads shaped like donuts are one of the earliest types of personal jewelry found in archaeological records. And some traditional hunter groups in southern Africa still make and use these beads until now.

"People make it to communicate symbolic messages, ways that today we might use wedding rings, to show something about social status, wealth or position in society," said Jennifer Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at the Archaeological Department at the Max Planck Institute Science of Human History, in Jena, Germany, as quoted from CNN on Wednesday (5/1/2021).

Photo: Jennifer Miller via CNN

They studied 1,516 beads from 31 different sites in South and East Africa and lasted 50 thousand years.

Comparing different characteristics of beads based on diameter and thickness, they found that between 33 thousand to 50 thousand years ago, people in southern and eastern Africa used almost identical beads.

"We know that genetically these groups have a kind of contact, but so far there has been no evidence of culture," Miller said, which was a study writer published in the journal Nature.

"It's a bit confusing to know these people, who lived 40 thousand to 50 thousand years ago, had a kind of social network spread in so far away," he continued.

The oldest beads come from East Africa, and the possibility of spreading south across the continent from there. The authors describe it as the oldest social network that has been identified and the furthest "stone-style connection" ever documented.

Although it may be beads can be exchanged directly in a certain way, Miller thinks that the most likely being exchanged is knowledge of how to make it.

However, this network, as represented by similar beads, seems to have been damaged at 33 thousand years ago. After this point of time, the use of beads seems to disappear in South Africa, but continues in eastern Africa.

Starting around 19,000 years ago, beads reappeared in South Africa and in a much larger amount and in different styles.

The two populations, which used to appear interrelated, remained isolated until the grazing of livestock was introduced to South Africa about 2,000 years ago, the study said.

What changed? The author believes it is a climate. About 33 thousand years ago, a meteorological phenomenon known as the intertropical convergence zone moved south, which caused flooding in the zambezi river.

This area connects East and South Africa, and flooding can be a barrier to human interaction, according to colleagues from Yiming Wang's study. Wang is a post-doctoral researcher at the Archaeological Department at the Max Planck Institute Science of Human History.

In southern Africa, it is possible that the population then spread into small groups that have fewer needs to make beads. Or, it could not be enough people who know about tradition, or skills behind it, to continue for some time.

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