“Their ancient DNA—the oldest ever obtained from Africans—shows that these people had no European ancestry. Instead, they were related to both Middle Easterners and sub-Saharan Africans, suggesting that more people were migrating in and out of North Africa than previously believed. The origins of the ancient Moroccans, known as the Iberomaurusians because 20th century archaeologists thought they were connected to peoples of the Iberian Peninsula, have been a mystery ever since the Grotte des Pigeons cave was discovered near Oujda, Morocco, in 1908.
“Starting 22,000 or so years ago, these hunter-gatherers eschewed more primitive Middle Stone Age tools, such as larger blades used on spears, to produce microliths—small pointed bladelets that could be shot farther as projectile points or arrowheads. Similar tools show up earlier in Spain, France, and other parts of Europe, some associated with the famous Gravettian culture, known for its stone figurines of curvaceous women.”
“When it comes to evidence for human origins in northwest Africa versus eastern Africa versus southern Africa, it’s a tie,” he wrote in an email. Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History said the Morocco fossils “appear to reflect the very early transition to Homo sapiens, very possibly denoting the outset of the lineage to which all people belong.”
“The site is about 34 miles (55 kilometers) southeast of the coastal city of Safi, northwest of Marrakech. Its age was determined chiefly by analyzing bits of flint found there, and the authors concluded they were around 315,000 years old. Hublin said that since a different method suggested a younger age for the site, he considers the bones to be about 300,000 years old. Richard Roberts of the University of Woollongong in Australia, an expert in determining ages of ancient sites, supported that conclusion. “I’d say the authors have presented pretty convincing evidence for the presence of early modern humans at this site by 300,000 years ago and perhaps a little earlier,” Roberts wrote in an email.”
“An international team of researchers has sequenced DNA from individuals from Morocco dating to approximately 15,000 years ago in Grotte des Pigeons, near Taforalt in Morocco, the Ministry of Culture and Communication said in a statement, adding that this is the oldest nuclear DNA from Africa ever successfully analyzed. The individuals, dating to the Late Stone Age, had a genetic heritage that was in part similar to Near Eastern populations and in part related to sub-Saharan African populations, as published in the US magazine Science. In order to address this, the team looked at a burial site in Grotte des Pigeons, near Taforalt in Berkan, associated with the Later Stone Age Iberomaurusian culture. The Iberomaurusians are believed to be the first in the area to produce finer stone tools known as microliths. «Grotte des Pigeons is a crucial site to understanding the human history of north-western Africa, since modern humans frequently inhabited this cave intensively during prolonged periods throughout the Middle and Later Stone Age,» explains co-author Louise Humphrey of the Natural History Museum in London. «Around 15,000 years ago there is evidence for more intensive use of the site and the Iberomaurusians started to bury their dead at the back of the cave. The researchers found two major components to the genetic heritage of the individuals. About two-thirds of their heritage is related to contemporaneous populations from the Levant and about one-third is most similar to modern sub-Saharan Africans, in particular West Africans.”
“In this case, the researchers studied both types. They obtained mitochondrial DNA from seven people and genome-wide nuclear data from five individuals, all of whom were buried at a site called Grotte des Pigeons near Taforalt, Morocco. He explained that there is archaeological evidence for land migrations. “Both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastal routes could have been used by the Taforalt ancestors,” he said. The Levantine people who interacted with those from what is now Morocco could have been Natufians, a highly successful culture of the early Middle East. The other third of the Iberomaurusians’ heritage comes from a previously unknown ancient population originating from Sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahara Desert is difficult to cross even today much less in ancient times, but somehow Stone Age people managed to make the trip. Bouzouggar suspects that the ancient African population that mixed into the Iberomaurusians could have been the Aterians, who were among the first to use the bow and arrow and to wear ornaments, indicative of advanced symbolic behaviors. The researchers additionally conducted direct genetic tests for Neanderthal admixture, and sure enough, they found that the Iberomaurusians do retain Neanderthal DNA. Van de Loosdrecht explained that it “was inherited as part of their large proportion of Near Eastern ancestry.”
“Up to this point, the oldest commonly accepted traces of our species were 195,000-year-old remains from the site of Omo Kibish and 160,000-year-old fossils from Herto, both in Ethiopia.The researchers found that the sizes and shapes of the Jebel Irhoud face, lower jaw and teeth align with those of H. sapiens, not Neandertals or other archaic humans. But the braincase is elongated like that of archaic humans, not rounded like that of their modern counterparts. Such variations are associated with differences in brain organization. The team concluded that the Jebel Irhoud remains represent “the very root of our species, the oldest H. sapiens ever found in Africa or elsewhere,” Hublin said at a press conference.”
As early as 1489, William Caxton wrote: ‘He was so angry for it, that he became black as a Moor’. In 1550 William Thomas, in his Principal rules of the Italian grammar, defined ‘Moro’ as ‘ a Moore or blacke man’, as if the two were synonymous.
Moor: [Maurus, Latin.] A negro; a black-a-moor. “I shall answer that better than you can the getting up of the negro’s belly; the moor is with child by you. Shakespeare.”
Source: A dictionary of the English language: in which the words are deduced from : their originals, explained in their different meanings and authorized by the names of the writers in whose works they are found by Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784.
“Moor: A historical rather than an ethnographical term applied to very different peoples of northwestern Africa. In Roman history it is applied to inhabitants of Mauretania (Morocco and Algeria), who were in part Phoenician colonist. In Spanish history the “Moors” and “Moriscos” were mainly supposed to be Arabs. Today the word is wrongly applied to the Riffs of Morocco and to the town dwellers of Algeria and Tunis. The latter call themselves generally “Arabs,” although often in part of Berber blood. The Moors, in a stricter ethnological sense, are the mixed Trarza and other tribes on the western coast, from Morocco to Senegal, mainly of nomadic habits. They are of mixed Berber, Arab, and often Negro blood. Many speak Arabic. (See Semetic-Hamitic.)”
Source: Dictionary of races or peoples by United States. Immigration Commission (1907-1910); Dillingham, William P. (William Paul), 1843-1923; Folkmar, Daniel, 1861-1932; Folkmar, Elnora (Cuddeback) 1863-1930