A Georgian cave has yielded what scientists say are the earliest examples of humans making cords.
The microscopic fibres, discovered accidentally while scientists were searching for pollen samples, are around 30,000 years old.
A team reports in the journal Science that ancient humans probably used the plant fibres to carry tools, weave baskets or make garments.
Some of the fibres are coloured and appear to have been dyed.Science Vol. 325. no. 5946, p. 1359 DOI: 10.1126/science.1175404
30,000-Year-Old Wild Flax Fibers
Eliso Kvavadze et al.
A unique finding of wild flax fibers from a series of Upper Paleolithic layers at Dzudzuana Cave, located in the foothills of the Caucasus, Georgia, indicates that prehistoric hunter-gatherers were making cords for hafting stone tools, weaving baskets, or sewing garments. Radiocarbon dates demonstrate that the cave was inhabited intermittently during several periods dated to 32 to 26 thousand years before the present (kyr B.P.), 23 to 19 kyr B.P., and 13 to 11 kyr B.P. Spun, dyed, and knotted flax fibers are common. Apparently, climatic fluctuations recorded in the cave’s deposits did not affect the growth of the plants because a certain level of humidity was sustained.