Marine moluscs – University of Copenhagen

Marine molluscs

Marine shells from the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea were widely used as ornaments by early Neolithic hunter-gatherers as well as sedentary groups in the southern Levant. The marine shells from Shkārat Msaied show a high diversity of species. Most of the shells were used as beads, and rather simple modification techniques were applied. The variation of bead types is quite limited when compared to other sites in the region. From an intra-site spatial analysis of artefacts at Shkārat Msaied it is suggested that shell artefacts are like stone and bone tools stored in communal buildings. Because of the high frequency of marine shells in the building designated to the interment of the dead, they are strongly associated with mortuary practices. Cowrie and Nerita shells were among the favourite types. 

SM2016 Cowrie shell in unit F

Marine mollusc found at Shkarat Msaied