|18 May 2015
Stone bracelet is oldest ever found
Discovered in the Altai Mountains of Siberia in 2008, detailed analysis by Russian experts confirms an intricately made polished green stone bracelet dates to as long ago as 40,000 years.
Anatoly Derevyanko, Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says: "The bracelet is stunning - in bright sunlight it reflects the sun rays, at night by the fire it casts a deep shade of green."
Made of chlorite, the bracelet was found inside the famous Denisova Cave, in the same layer as remains of some of the extinct species of humans who were genetically distinct from both Neanderthals and modern humans. Chlorite was not found near the cave, and is thought to have come from a distance of at least 200 kilometres. Inside the cave, 66 different types of mammals have been discovered, and 50 bird species. Further examination of the site found other artefacts dating back as much as 125,000 years.
The bracelet is in two fragments, 27 millimetres wide and 9 millimetres thick. The estimated diameter of the complete piece is 70 millimetres. Near one of the broken edges is a drilled hole with a diameter of about 8 millimetres.
According to Dr Derevyanko, "The ancient master was skilled in techniques previously considered not characteristic for the Palaeolithic era, such as drilling with an implement, boring tool type rasp, grinding and polishing with a leather and skins of varying degrees of tanning. Next to the hole on the outer surface of the bracelet can be seen clearly a limited polished zone of intensive contact with some soft organic material. Scientists have suggested that it was a leather strap with some charm, and this charm was rather heavy. The location of the polished section made it possible to identify the top and bottom of the bracelet, and to establish that it was worn on the right hand."
Mikhail Shunkov, deputy director of the Institute, says: "In the same layer, where we found a Denisovan bone, were found interesting things... symbolic items, such as jewellery - including the stone bracelet, as well as a ring carved out of marble.
While bracelets have been found pre-dating this discovery, Russian experts say this is the oldest known jewellery of its kind made of stone.
Edited from The Siberian Times (7 May 2015)
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