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2 May 2016
11,000-year-old pendant is earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain

An 11,000 year old engraved shale pendant discovered by archaeologists during excavations at the Early Mesolithic site at Star Carr in North Yorkshire is unique in the UK, according to new research.
     The artwork on the tiny fragile pendant is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain. Crafted from a single piece of shale, 3-millimetre thick and 31 by 35 millimetres. Engraved motifs on Mesolithic pendants are extremely rare and no other engraved pendants made of shale are known in Europe.
     When archaeologists uncovered the pendant last year, the lines on the surface were barely visible. Researchers used a range of digital microscopy techniques to generate high resolution images to help determine the style and order of engraving. They also carried out scientific analysis to try to establish if the pendant had been strung or worn, and whether pigments had been used to make the lines more prominent.
     It is the first perforated artefact with engraved design discovered at Star Carr, though shale beads, a piece of perforated amber, and two perforated animal teeth have been recovered previously.
     Star Carr is one of a number of archaeological sites around what was a huge lake in the Mesolithic era, and the pendant was discovered in lake edge deposits.
     Dr Chantal Conneller, from The University of Manchester and co-director of the excavations, said: "This was a time when sea-level was much lower than today. Groups roamed across Doggerland and into Britain. The designs on our pendant are similar to those found in southern Scandinavia and other areas bordering the North Sea, showing a close cultural connection between northern European groups at this time."

Edited from EurekAlert! (25 February 2016)

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