Caveman bling! Pendant made of mammoth bone with ‘mysterious dots’ could be oldest known example of ornate jewellery in Eurasia
The remains of an ancient pendant made from mammoth ivory have been discovered in Poland in what is thought to be the oldest known example of ornate jewellery ever found in Eurasia.
Discovered by archaeologists in the Stajnia cave in southern Poland in 2010, recent radiocarbon work has now dated it to around 41,500 years ago from when Homo sapiens were in Europe.
Reporting their discovery in Scientific Reports, the archaeologists said: "The decoration of the pendant included patterns of over 50 puncture marks in an irregular looping curve, and two complete holes.”
They added that each puncture could represent a successful animal hunt or cycles of the moon or sun.
Sahra Talamo, who led the study, said: “Determining the exact age of this jewellery was fundamental for its cultural attribution, and we are thrilled with the result.
“This work demonstrates that using the most recent methodological advances in the radiocarbon method enables us to minimise the amount of sampling and achieve highly precise dates with a very small error range.
“If we want to seriously solve the debate on when mobiliary art emerged in Palaeolithic groups, we need to radiocarbon date these ornaments, especially those found during past fieldwork or in complex stratigraphic sequences.”
Co-author Wioletta Nowaczewska added: “This piece of jewellery shows the great creativity and extraordinary manual skills of members of the group of Homo sapiens (Homo neanderthalensis) that occupied the site.
“The thickness of the plate is about 3.7 millimetres showing an astonishing precision on carving the punctures and the two holes for wearing it.”
Stajnia Cave has long been a hotspot for archaeological discoveries, with excavations uncovering a number of Neanderthal remains, as well as a vast number of animal remains and artifacts from the Paleolithic, or Stone Age.