Archaeologists in Morocco have discovered more than 80 human footprints described as the oldest in North Africa and the southern Mediterranean. The footprints are believed to be left by five individuals on a beach in northern Morocco, around 100,000 years ago.
According to AFP, the footprints were discovered on the coast of Larache, a city 90 kilometers south of Tangier, by archaeologists from Morocco, Spain, France, and Germany.
“The footprints were some of the world’s best-preserved human traces and the oldest in North Africa and the southern Mediterranean. The discovery opens new research horizons on prehistory in Morocco,” said Anass Sedrati, member of the research project.
This discovery was made coincidentally during a field mission in July 2022, as part of a scientific research project on the origins and dynamics of the boulders in the region.
Tests showed that “85 of the prints belong to at least five individuals who were likely searching for food in the sea,” said Sedrati.
The team suggests that those five individuals either lived in a region close to the site, or were only crossing the beach. “They were children, teens and adults,” the researchers noted.
The findings, published in the journal Nature in January, showed that these prints were preserved “in the upper area of the beach covered with sediments.”
Animal traces had also been discovered and efforts are ongoing to date them, according to Sedrati, who is the curator at the archaeological site of Lixus Larache.
In 2017, some homo sapiens remains dating back 300,000 years were unearthed in northwest Morocco, in the Jebel Irhoud region.
In other separate discoveries in recent years, prints dating back to the prehistoric era were found in Tangier, Tetouan, Rabat (north) and Essaouira (south).
The latest discovery achieved by the combined efforts of scientists from different specializations is “the first building block for in-depth research on the settlement and activity of Homo sapiens in Morocco,” Sedrati concluded.