Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Oldest Gold Jewelry Found

You may have all ready read about this, but if you haven't, the oldest gold jewelry was recently found by anthropologist Mark Aldenderfer and a group of scientists in the Peruvian Andes, specifically near Lake Titicaca. These artifacts were found in a burial site and included this turquoise and hammered gold necklace. The gold artifacts date back 4000 years, during the time when civilizations in that region were hunters and gathers, and just beginning to live a more settled life. These findings seem to show that people at that time, with limited resources, recognized the prestige and importance of obtaining ornamental objects for status and a sign of importance. The previously known oldest gold artifacts date back 3400 years and were found in South America.

This photographed necklace, it is speculated, was created by an artist that hammered the gold flat, and then curled the metal into a cylinder form. It seems gold was used because it was readily available in that region and the metal was easy to work. Nine gold beads were found with several smaller beads of either greenstone or turquoise. The researchers restrung the necklace with a green or turquoise bead in between the gold cylinders.

This discovery is reported in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was funded by the US National Science Foundation and the University of Missouri.

(This image is courtesy of Mark Aldenderfer)

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