|12 November 2016
Palaeolithic jewellery still eye-catching after 50,000 years
A fascinating collection of jewellery made of ostrich eggshells is being assembled by archeologists working in the world famous Denisova cave in Altai region of Siberia. The beads were found in the cave's "lucky" eleventh layer, the same as the world's oldest bracelet, made from rare dark green stone. The cave was occupied by Homo sapiens, and now extinct early humans - Neanderthals and Denisovans - for at least 288,000 years. Excavations have been in progress for three decades.
Archaeologists are in no doubt that the perfectly drilled beads are between 45,000 and 50,000 years old making them older than strikingly similar finds in South Africa. The skills and techniques used are remarkable and more akin to the Neolithic era, dozens of millennia later.
Maksim Kozlikin, researcher at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Novosibirsk, says of the Siberian ostrich egg beads: "For that time, we consider this to be an exquisite jewellery work of a very talented artist."
Kozlikin believes the beads may have been sewn into clothing, or formed part of a bracelet or necklace, but he admits that, "As of now, there is much more that we do not know about these beads than we do know. For example, we do not know where the beads were made. One version is that the egg shells could have been exported from Trans-Baikal or Mongolia with the beads manufactured here. Another possibility is that the beads were purchased elsewhere and delivered to the Altai Mountains perhaps in an exchange. Whichever way we look at it, it shows that the people populating the Denisova Cave at the time were advanced in technologies and had very well-established contacts with the outside world."
Researchers recently revealed the discovery of the world's oldest needle in the cave - still useable after 50,000 years. Crafted from the bone of an ancient bird, it was made not by Homo sapiens or even Neanderthals, but by Denisovans.
Professor Mikhail Shunkov, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, said: "It is the most unique find of this season, which can even be called sensational. It is a needle made of bone. As of today it is the most ancient needle in the word. It is about 50,000 years old."
Edited from The Siberian Times (31 October 2016)
Share this webpage: