It is in the Chellah space of the capital, in Rabat, that were exhibited on this Thursday, November 18, 2021, the 32 shells shaped from marine gastropods in a level dating from 142,000 to 150,000 years in the cave of Bizmoune. located in Jbel Hdid about fifteen kilometers from Essaouira in the center west of the Kingdom.
The ceremony initiated by the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication, the Essaouira-Mogador Association and Essaouira Innovation Lab, was supervised by the Advisor to King Mohammed VI, André Azoulay as well as the Minister of Culture, of Youth and Communication Mohamed Mehdi Bensaïd, in the presence of ambassadors from many countries and an international team from the National Institute of Archaeological and Heritage Sciences (INSAP, Rabat, Morocco) depending on the Ministry of Culture of Youth and Sports (Department of Culture), the University of Arizona (Tucson, USA) and the Mediterranean Laboratory of Prehistory Europe Africa (CNRS, LAMPEA, Aix-en-Provence, France).
This discovery in the cave of Bizmoune, now inscribed in the legend of the Aterian culture of the Middle Stone Age (MSA), through elements of adornment having highlighted the oldest human symbolic behavior, had already been in the spotlight. during an information day organized on Tuesday October 26 in the Cité des Alizés with a visit to the site. It is in a way a loan for a rendering that this exhibition today at the Chellah in Rabat. And in this regard Mohamed Mehdi Bensaïd, Minister of Culture, Youth and Communication, indicated that his department organized this meeting as part of the celebration of Independence Day, declaring that the presentation of this large discovery in the cave of Bizmoune near the city of Essaouira reflects an important presence of human civilization in North Africa.
Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid added, in a statement to MoroccoLatestNews, that the experts (international team) have unveiled important data for the history of mankind and thus helped to enlighten the world on the evolution of mankind at a certain time. This discovery highlights the countless treasures that the Kingdom contains. For his part, Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, professor of higher education at the National Institute of Archeology and Heritage of Rabat (INSAP), declared that “this discovery has a symbolism, because the collectors of marine snails had eyes only for this species alone and not another, hence the hypothesis that this expresses a certain symbolism“. Bouzouggar added that “ symbolic tools, unlike artefacts, can only be communicated through language, and therefore these symbols are related to language, which suggests that we are at the time of the beginning of language, and the assembly of this type of snails signifies that there is a common point between these groups .
For his part, the King’s Counsel, André Azoulay, described this moment as “important”and thanked the minister“For choosing Chellah, to commemorate this event, which thanks to the efforts of scientists and their work over the years, made this important discovery”. He further considered, in his statement to MoroccoLatestNews, that “the latter calls into question many historical facts and will therefore give a new dynamic of analysis and a rereading of history regarding this period”. He also added, agreeing with Bouzouggar in this, that this was, “dhe first clues to humanity revealing the existence of structured relationships between members of the same group or of different groups, this adornment illustrating for the first time and in its own way the existence of a form of language, even of a language, at the time of Homo-Sapiens”. For Steven Kuhn of the University of Arizona, one of the lead authors of the study, these paleoenvironmental data are crucial: “To understand the origins of this behavior, we need to take a close look at the ecological and demographic factors of human groups for which assertion of one’s own belonging or identity was probably very important.”.
Research at the Bizmoune cave was and still is co-directed by Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, professor at INSAP in Rabat, Steven Kuhn, professor at the University of Arizona (Tucson, USA) and Philippe Fernandez, researcher at the Mediterranean Laboratory of Prehistory Europe Africa (CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France). Various researchers from several institutions are also associated with this research with, in Morocco, the University Hassan II Casablanca-Mohammedia, the National Energy Center of Nuclear Sciences and Techniques (CNESTEN), in the United States, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University (USA), in Germany the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the University of Tübingen, in Spain the University of Las Palmas and in England the University of Sheffield. All these beautiful people will never thank enough André Azoulay, founding president of the Essaouira-Mogador Association for his interest and support for his archaeological research in the region of Essaouira and of which the city of the Trade Winds is inseparable from him.