World’s oldest camp bedding found in South African cave – thought to be 200,000 years old

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Border Cave is a deep gash in a cliff face, high in the Lebombo Mountains of South Africa. Sheltered from the elements, the spot has yielded bones, tools, and preserved plant material that paint a detailed picture of the lives of human inhabitants for more than 200,000 years. Now, there’s a new sketch emerging: Plant remains point to evidence that the cave’s occupants used grass bedding about 200,000 years ago. Researchers speculate that the cave’s occupants laid their bedding on ash to repel insects. The preserved bedding will join the ranks of other “incredible discoveries” from the African archaeological record, says Javier Baena Preysler, an archaeologist at the Autonomous University of Madrid who was not involved in the research. But other researchers point to uncertainty in the dates and note that absent a time machine, scientists have to speculate about exactly how ancient people used the piled-up grasses and ash. Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of the…