Bed linen made of grass and ash
The Border Cave site in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal region is a rich source of archaeological knowledge about Stone Age humans because of well-preserved stratigraphic records. Wadley et al. Currently reported on the discovery of lawns in Bien Bien Dong, dating back to about 200,000 years ago. The buffer, determined by a variety of microscopic and spectroscopic techniques, was mixed with the ash layers. It also incorporates fragments from geckos, vertebrae, and round vermilion beads, all of clear artificial origin. The authors speculate that the ash may have been intentionally used in bedding to inhibit tick movement and other arthropod irritants. These discoveries stretch the record for deliberately building vegetation at least 100,000 years.
Science, this problem p. 863
Initial botanical use is rarely described in archaeological records because of poor preservation. We report that grass has been discovered to be used to create comfortable areas for sleep and work by people living in the Border Cave at least 200,000 years ago. The broadleaf grass of the Panicoideae subfamily placed near the back of the cave on ash layers is often the remnants of mulch burned for site maintenance. This strategy is a precursor to more complex behavior that is archeologically apparent from ~ 100,000 years ago.