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What did people wear 30,000 years ago? Rare cave discovery in Spain gives a glimpse

By comparison to their modern day descendants, Paleolithic people didn’t have much. They lacked basic medicine, advanced tools and organized government.

But they were not without a sense of style, according to new research.

Early inhabitants of Spain — who lived between 25,000 and 30,000 years ago — traveled long distances to collect and carefully create jewelry, according to a study published on May 30 in the journal Environmental Archaeology.

Spanish and German researchers came to this conclusion after exploring a cave near Malaga, according to a news release from the University of Cadiz.

The researchers discovered about a dozen modified seashells inside the cave, which were likely used by Paleolithic people as pendants to adorn their bodies.

The shells are considered incredibly rare, particularly because, unlike similar discoveries, they were found far from the coast, indicating travel was required for their collection.

Early humans trekked at least 30 miles to reach the shells found in the Mediterranean Sea, researchers said, and it’s likely they traveled even farther since the coastline shifted over the ensuing millennia.

The cave in which the shells were found, known as the Cueva de Ardales, was considered to be a site of symbolic activities, researchers said.

Over 1,000 ancient engravings and paintings have also been found in the “hugely important” cave, which was likely on and off again occupied by humans for around 58,000 years, according to a study published in 2022 in the journal PLOS One.

Ornaments made from seashells that date to the Paleolithic Era have also been found in Siberia, around 4,000 miles away, according to a study published in 2021 in the journal Quaternary International.

Malaga is about 330 miles south of Madrid.

Google Translate was used to translate a news release from the University of Cadiz.

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