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19 December 2005
Ancient Chinese may have worn necklaces 20,000 years ago

Archaeologists have found some 100 pieces of ostrich eggshells, as small as nails and dated back to more than 20,000 years ago, which might have been used to make necklaces. The ostrich eggshell fragments, polished into a round shape, are the oldest decoration objects found so far in China, said Pei Shuwen, an associate research professor with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
     Pei said that the ostrich eggshell pieces, found in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region innorthwest China, were the most exquisite adornments of the paleolithic age in China and showed that the ancient Chinese had appreciation of beauty as early as 20,000 years ago. Each piece of the ostrich eggshell is about 1 cm in diameter, 1or 2 mm thick, with a hole of 3 or 4 mm in diameter in the center.The delicate objects are in the colors of yellow or ivory, and some have reddish grains, said Pei. "The colors should be the original colors of the ostrich eggshells. But the ancients had known how to select the most beautiful parts of the eggshells," Pei said.
     The ostrich eggshells have been spotted at the Shuidonggou relics site about 20 km east of Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia. And most of them were excavated in the same stratum. Archaeologists said the site might be a necklace processing place. However, the eggshell objects were found scattered, and no integrated necklace has been found. "The finished necklaces might have been taken away," said Pei, adding "It's also possible that we haven't found the right site for the necklaces". Archaeologists don't know yet what the ancients used to string the eggshell pieces together.

Source: China View (14 December 2005)

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