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Historic Jewellery talks but you have to listen carefully – part 2

Since my last blog about a 4000 year old pendant from Mesopotamian I got curious what the oldest historic finds are that you can call jewellery.

My inquiry after the oldest adornments led to the workfield of anthropologists. They investigate the lifestyles of ancient peoples and try to make a coherent story about our earliest origins with the remains they find.

Blombos cave-shell-beads Nassarius kraussianus
Image created by C. Henshilwood
& F. d'Errico.It iI
In the Blombos cave in South-Afrika are the oldest finds with the best evidence. There a team, led by archaeologist Henshilwood, is excavating objects of 100,000 -70 000 years old.

The excavated 68 pierced shells of the Nassarius kraussianus have been labeled beads by Henshilwoods team. They are estimated at 75,000 years old and come from the stone age.

What arguments do the anthropologists have that these shells may be called  ornaments? 

  1. These shells come from a region at least 20 km away from the Blombos cave. Early man deliberately brought them to the cave.
  2. The shells are too small to have any food value.
  3. They all have the same size, it seems like they are picked on purpose.
  4. All pierced on the same primitive way.
  5. And they have identical wear surfaces on the sides, which points to use in a chain.

Marian Vanhaeren, one of the members of the Tracsymbols team, connected them to a chain, like the Homo sapiens did too 75,000 years ago.

Blombos Cave shell beads necklaceBlombos cave shells strung to a necklace.
Image by M. Vanhaeren & C. Henshilwood.

The Homo sapiens strung with some homemade rope the shells into a necklace for adornment. This allowed him or her to stand out from the others.

So at first glance there hasn't changed a lot in our jewellery world. :-)

It means a lot that there are signs of jewellery dating to this time. Wearing jewellery is related to the ability to use symbols.

Without language you can't communicate these symbols. Thus with these findings it can be reasonably assumed that the Homo sapiens had a language with which they could communicate already 75,000 years ago. (also have a look at this BBC article )

Jewellery has more meaning than you would initially say. They tell when we started to talk to each other, because if you can't communicate, symbols have no meaning.

You can find more images on my pinterest page

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About La Leipsig

The jewellery which is sold under the brand name La Leipsig Jewels is based on Helga van Leipsig's observations of the nature in Limburg, a province in the south of The Netherlands.

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