Eurasia’s oldest decorated jewel

How long have we been wearing jewelry? Thousands of years, surely. Tens of thousands of years. The oldest decorated jewellery in Eurasia proves it. An international team of scientists found it. They describe the artifact with the oldest known spiked ornamentation.

Eurasia's oldest decorated jewel demonstrates great artistic expertise.
Eurasia’s oldest decorated jewel demonstrates great artistic expertise.

Nearly 42 thousand years old

Radiocarbon dating proved the age of the unusual ivory pendant drawing. It is 41,500 years old. That is, 2,000 years older than other samples of such decorative motifs. The results of the study were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

About 42,000 years ago, Homo sapiens settled in central and western Europe. Then they began to carve ornaments and statuettes decorated with geometric motifs. They did this from mammoth tusks. In addition to lines and crosses, dot patterns were used. They were found in southwestern France and on figurines from the Swabian Jura mountain range in Germany. The exact age of artifacts with this ornamentation has remained unknown until now.

The excavation took place in the highlands of Poland.
The excavation was carried out in the highlands of Poland.

Precision work

The researchers virtually reconstructed the artifact using 3D modeling. They then took detailed measurements and were able to describe the jewel. According to the scientists, the pendant demonstrates fine manual skills. It was made by members of the Homo sapiens group who lived near the Stajnia cave. It is in the highlands of Kraków-Częstochowa in Poland. The oldest decorated jewel in Eurasia is about 3.7 millimeters thick. This shows the striking precision of the piercing and the two holes for wearing the pendant.

Scientists do not yet know what the dot pattern symbolizes. However, it is reminiscent of the lunar analemma. This is a curve that is traced by marking the position of the Moon in the sky at the same time during the month. The authors of the work point out that similar ornaments appeared independently throughout Europe. This calls into question the monocentric model of the diffusion of artistic innovation.

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