Archeologists discovered a pendant with a row containing dots in 2010 at the Stajnia Cave, Poland. Researchers have revealed this week that they found a pendant with a row of dots at the Stajnia Cave in Poland. This makes it the oldest piece of jewelry decorated on the Eurasian continent.
For thousands of years, humans have been making and wearing jewelry. It can be difficult to determine how long ago prehistoric humans began decorating objects and using them for fashion accessories.
An archeologist can determine the date of an object discovered at an excavation site by looking at its surroundings. Items close together are more likely to be the same age, as deeper layers tend to be older. This is not always true, as buried materials may shift over time due to changes in climate or ground conditions. Radiocarbon dating is a way to determine the age of materials that were once part of living organisms.
Researchers used this method to determine the age of the pendant at Stajnia Cave. They also used an awl nearby to estimate the age of the pendant. This awl could have been used to create the decorative pattern found in similar pendants. Radiocarbon dating was used to determine the age of these items because they were made of materials that were once part or living organisms. The pendant was made from mammoth ivory, and the awl of horse bone.
Each animal and plant contains a small amount of radioactive carbon (C14). However, as they age, the C14 slowly decays. It is possible to estimate the origin of materials from animal or plant materials today by measuring the amount of C14 left in the material, as radioactive decay rate is constant over time. These estimates are becoming more precise thanks to modern methods of measuring radioactive degradation.
The researchers used small amounts of collagen taken from ivory and bone to determine the pendant’s age. They describe how they sent samples to two different radiocarbon dating laboratories in Scientific Reports. Both labs returned very similar results which led to the conclusion that the pendant was made around 41,500 years ago.
Radiocarbon only gives you the date of death of the horse and mammoth that the ivory and bone pieces came from. However, it is possible that someone made the jewelry later using old ivory and an old bone awl. To rule out that possibility, scientists looked at the age and remains found in the area. These were also of the same age which suggests that the pendant was made with fresh ivory or bone.
This pendant, which is 41,500 years old and decorated with silver, is the oldest known piece of jewelry on the Eurasian continent. Although it is not as old as some African jewelry, it was made in the paleolithic period, when Europeans first settled in Europe. It is not clear if the pendant was intended to be used for practical purposes (like tracking the moon or tallying hunts) or if it was an artistic expression. It’s a fascinating insight into Paleolithic life in any case!