Food and ornament
Recent excavations of Ifri Oudadane, a prehistoric rockshelter on the Mediterranean coast of NW
Morocco, yielded a rich marine and terrestrial fauna. We present an analysis of the shellfish remains (exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates) from the 2011 trench, covering the Epipaleolithic and Early Neolithic levels. A total of 4,415 liters of sediment contained 8,749 specimens (MNI) of at least 40 species of shellfish: 12 bivalves, 24 gastropods, one tusk shell, barnacles, crabs, and sea urchins. The mean abundance of shellfish was 2 MNI per liter. Limpets (Patellidae), topshells (Trochidae), mussels (Mytilidae), and rockshells (Muricidae) formed 98% of the total mollusk fauna and were part of the diet; limpets prevailed in Epipaleolithic levels and topshells in Neolithic ones. Evidence was found for a systematic butchering of topshells (Phorcus turbinatus): the shells in Epipaleolithic levels were mostly smashed while topshells in Neolithic levels were usually topped in a
uniform way. Seven species of mollusks showed traces of manipulation and were used as ornament or tools. Species used as food, such as limpets, topshells, and mussels, never show any indications of being used as ornament or tools, and the mollusks that were used as jewelry or tools were not part of the diet.