Every woman knows that an outfit is never complete without the perfect jewelry. It is a staple in every grown woman’s collection. But we have never considered that these tiny pieces of gems and stones hold so many stories in them. Gold headdresses and necklaces have defined the Egyptians. Colorful and unique pieces are distinctive of Native Americans. But, little did we know that it will only take three shell beads to fully define the history of jewelry.
The Prior Oldest Jewelry Ever Found
Scientists and scholars have previously theorized that jewelry was first developed by humans 40,000 years ago in Europe. It was also that time when the first art pieces, weapons and tools were made, based on dating that the scientists have done. But back in 2004, that theory was challenged by a finding made in the Middle East. Known as the Blombos Cave beads, they were dated to be around 75,000 years old. This signified that humans 75,000 years ago were already had a long lasting bead-working tradition.
A More Recent Older Jewelry Find
But a more recent discovery broke the record. In 2006, two shell beads were found in Israel. They were nothing special. You wouldn’t expect Beyonce to go gaga over these beads. They were just simple seashells punctured with a hole that can be threaded together to form a bracelet or a necklace.
Another bead was also found in Algeria. It was also from the same species of mollusc with the same holes. Once the scientists dated the beads though they could believe their find. The beads were 100,000 years old. A HUNDRED THOUSAND! It clearly changed the history of jewelry that we know. The rules had changed.
Is the Find So Significant?
This discovery seemed small and insignificant at first. How can three shell beads change the way we look at human evolution? But, these findings show that humans 100,000 years ago were already capable of complex behaviors. Back then, ornaments were not worn for fashion. They had no concept of jewelry. They didn’t have parties to attend.
Scientists theorized that jewelry worn at that time was for symbolic purposes. They were made to deliver a message and show as a sign of social consciousness. The bead found in Algeria was also found 160 kilometers from the sea. It suggests that the beads were intentionally transported, hence, another evidence of complex behaviors.
Does this Change History?
According to the scientists, they are not trying to discredit the hypothesis of European cultural explosion 4000 years ago. They were just saying that the basic framework of how we became who we are today was formed 100,000 years ago. With traces of ornamental historic jewelry this far back in time, it had to have dated much further back.
When you think about it, that was an incredibly long time ago. Almost 100,000 years had passed and people still believed that the world is flat and that true love exists.
The scientists have hypothesized that there is a possibility that other symbolic materials other than jewelry and historic decorative pieces from 100,000 years ago were made studying cave paintings. But, the discovery of those three shell beads have made them optimistic about what else we can learn. All of this in a quest to shed light to the true history of our existence.