University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

World’s Oldest Child Found in Morocco

June 16, 2011

Dr. Harold Dibble and his excavation team at Smugglers’ Cave on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco found the skull of the “world’s oldest child.” Rigorous dating techniques have determined the age of the skull to be around 108,000 years old. Analysis of the teeth tells us that the boy died at around six years of age. Dr. Dibble named the child Bouchra, meaning “good news” in Arabic.

View of Smugglers' Cave

Smugglers’ Cave was first occupied around 110,000 years ago and primarily contains deposits from the Late Pleistocene through the early Holocene. The site of Smugglers’ Cave is important in the debate on the origins of modern humans. Not only is the site one of the few with modern human remains associated with stone and bone assemblages, it also yields advanced features including stemmed stone tools, bone tools, hearths, the use of ochre, and pierced shells.

Tonight (Thursday, July 16) at 8pm EST, Nat Geo is going to air a special doco on the topic. You can also watch a video snippet about the reconstruction of Bouchra’s head below.

Read More
Flam, Faye (June 16, 2011) Penn team uncovers skeleton of ‘world’s oldest child’ The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Pingback: News on recent hominin research « trouble at t'mill anthropology()

    Re: The Missing Link

    While doing my undergraduate work at the University Of Minnesota. The question came up and there was talk about “The Missing Link”. None had been found and None will be found. the missing Link is – US !. This is correct, it hound on me – What happened to the different SPECIES along the way. One of the species must have had to suvive in order to the line in the Anthropological record continuo. From The Genus PARANTHROPUS, to AUTRALOPITHECUS, to SAPIEN AND THEN HOMINID.

    Presently, I am doing work on the different BIPEDAL SPECIES that are neither of the above Genuses – An example METHANE, BACTERIAL, VIRUSES (although they are not a species because they were created – There exist are Bipedal forms), SIMIAN and many others. As an example The PRIMORDIAL (The first in Line) for the SIMINIAN species is – The PLESIADAPIS.

    THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT – from MEDICINE point of view – Do you know and understand; the BIPEDAL being in front of you. This is a point I want to share with Anthropology. What an incredible subject to truly move forward.

    with warm regards,

    Christian : ) !

  • mgleeson

    hi Zev. This is a good question. In general, conservation and preservation strategies have changed quite a bit in recent years, due to developments in technology and access to non-invasive analytical tools. While our approach to preserving Egyptian objects may be similar to how we approach preserving other types of objects from other places/cultures, ancient Egyptian objects can be really complex to understand and interpret (including interpreting materials, technology, and significance), and so it is worthwhile holding a conference dedicated to this topic. These objects are old, and not only do we need to understand how they were made and how the burial environment might have affected them over thousands of years, but then we often see old restorations and modifications carried out by archaeologists or conservators in the past. Interpreting this stuff is challenging, and you don’t really see the same issues with contemporary pieces. Meeting with colleagues and hearing about how they have dealt with similar issues on similar objects is really helpful, and I have found that through this blog, I have been able to assist other conservators working on similar objects.

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