We’ve Been Battling Pests for 200,000 Years

I am fascinated by all things archeological, so I was intrigued by an article in Science News entitled, “Study: Humans have been sleeping on beds for 200,000 years”.

My first thought was that this doesn’t surprise me. Primates make nests to sleep in. And who doesn’t prefer to be comfortable? I doubt that that urge is a newfound one.

But what really interested me about the article was the composition of the beds. It seems that in Border Cave, an archeological dig in South Africa, a scientific analysis was done of the bedding, and it was determined that it was made of the very grass that is growing outside of the cave to this day. Well, that’s a nifty use of the available resources, I must say.

But beneath those layers of grass, scientists discovered, always lies a layer of ash. It is believed that this ash layer warded off some bugs and dehydrated others. Or, at the very least, these people may have been burning their bedding when it became dirty and/or infested. Based on the tools scattered about, it seems they sat upon these beds to work during the day as well. And camphor was found on top of the bedding. That’s an effective insect repellent. It is easy to surmise that bugs were a nuisance back then, too.

From this one little article I learned that these early humans had a sense of organization, and knew how to take advantage of local resources.  They enjoyed comfort, and they hated lice and ticks and other creepy crawlies as much as we do.

Way to adapt, guys! And thank you for doing so. It allowed you to stick around long enough to produce descendants that eventually led to us. Well done!

Border Cave, South Africa

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