The world's oldest beds, 77,000-years-old, were discovered at Sibudu, a cave in a sandstone cliff in South Africa, according to reports.
Despite the age, what's more astounding about these beds, made from compacted stems and leaves, is that they contained insecticides that would keep mosquitoes away while someone was sleeping.
Livescience.com reports that an international team of archaeologists discovered a stack of the ancient beds at Sibudu, specifically composed of compacted stems and leaves of sedges, rushes and grasses stacked in at least 15 layers within a chunk of sediment 10 feet thick. Various reports say that at least three different layers of the cave contained the bed remains.
The inhabitants would have collected the sedges and rushes from along the uThongathi River, located directly below the site, said researcher Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa to the Web site, and laid the plants on the floor of the shelter.
Various reports also say that the oldest mats discovered are approximately 50,000 years older than other known examples of bedding made from plants.
According to livesceince.com, many of the plant remains are species of Cryptocarya, which are evergreen plants used a lot of traditional, herbicidal medicines. The specific evergreen covering most of the bedding seemed to be composed of river wild-quince (Cryptocarya woodii), whose crushed leaves emit insect-repelling scents.
The selection of these leaves for the construction of bedding suggests that the early inhabitants of Sibudu had an intimate knowledge of the plants surrounding the shelter,and were aware of their medicinal uses, Wadley said, according to reports. Herbal medicines would have provided advantages for human health, and the use of insect-repelling plants adds a new dimension to our understanding of behavior 77,000 years ago.
According to the Daily Mail, researchers pointed out that starting about 73,000 years ago, the inhabitants of Sibidu and the surrounding area would frequently burn their bedding after use as way to fully remove pests.
This would have prepared the site for future occupation and represents a novel use of fire for the maintenance of an occupation site, said researcher Christopher Miller, a geoarchaeologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany.
Researchers also said that the bedding was also used for work surfaces.
These discoveries show the creativity and diversity of behavior that these early humans practiced, Miller said to LiveScience.