Cape Town: The world's
oldest bed, dating back 77,000 years, has been discovered in a
cave in South Africa.
The bed, made of bundles of sedge and wild quince leaves, was
found by archaeologist Lyn Wadley of Wits University, while
excavating a site at Sibudu in KwaZulu-Natal province, Xinhua
reported citing the Cape Argus newspaper.
The site was a rock shelter on a cliff face on the banks of the
Thongathi river, 40 km north of Durban, where Wadley has been
working as an archaeologist since 1998.
Wadley found the bed (about 1x2 metres in size) buried more than
three metres deep in sediments.
What was special about the bed was that it was covered with a
layer of aromatic leaves from a plant called the river wild
quince. No other tree leaves were found on the bedding, so the
leaves were not there as a result of random leaf fall, the report
The leaves of the river wild quince have insect-repellent
properties, especially against mosquitoes, so these bed-makers
clearly had a good knowledge of herbal medicine, it said.
There was also evidence at the site that bedding was occasionally
burnt, presumably to get rid of residual bugs.
The bed-makers were Middle Stone Age humans, skilled in making
stone tools, including spearheads, knives and scrapers, as well as
They also made bone tools and mixed ochre -- natural earth
containing ferric oxide, silica, and alumina -- which might have
been used as an insect repellent or as paint.
Before this extraordinary discovery, the earliest known beds were
about 25,000 years old, and the earliest known use of herbal
medicine was about 5,000 years ago.