The discovery of one of the oldest Neolithic pieces of jewelry buried with an eight-year-old girl shines a light on the sophistication and craftsmanship of our ancestors 10,000 years ago.
The necklace, comprising 2,500 pieces including amber beads and an engraved mother-of-pearl ring, was discovered at the Neolithic village of Ba`ja in present-day Jordan.
It was buried with an eight-year-old girl between 7400 and 6800 BC and although found in pieces has been painstakingly reconstructed by archaeologists.
“It shows a complex interplay of art, trade, status, and funerary practice,” said the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
It is made from 2,500 colorful stones and shells, two exceptional amber beads, the oldest known thus far in the Levant, along with a large stone pendant and a delicately engraved mother-of-pearl ring.
The multi-row necklace is one of the oldest and most impressive Neolithic ornaments yet discovered involving meticulous work using exotic materials imported from other parts of the world.
The necklace, now on display in the Petra Museum in Southern Jordan, reveals complex social dynamics between community members including artisans, traders, and high-status authorities who would commission such pieces.
“The reconstruction results exceeded our expectations as it revealed an imposing multi-row necklace of complex structure and attractive design,” said Dr. Hala Alarashi of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain.
“Through multiple lines of evidence, we suggest that the necklace was created at
Ba‘ja, although significant parts of beads were made from exotic shells and stones, including fossil amber, an unprecedented material never attested before for this period.
“The retrieval of such an ornament from life and its attribution to a young dead child highlights the significant social status of this individual.”
“Beyond the symbolic functions related to identity, the necklace is believed to have played a key role in performing the inhumation rituals, understood as a public event gathering families, relatives, and people from other villages.”
“In this sense, the necklace is not seen as belonging completely to the realm of death but rather to the world of the living, materializing a collective memory and shared moments of emotions and social cohesion.”
She added: “The study has also revealed an unexpected level of connectivity between Ba‘ja and the wider world and its involvement in the exchange and trade networks that circulated throughout the Levant.
“Our in-depth analysis of the assemblage has allowed us to reimagine one of
the oldest and most impressive Neolithic ornaments, believed to have been created to endow a highly distinguished eight-year-old child of the community.
“Despite its elaborate design, such a necklace was not created for exchange or trade purposes but was rather a part of the child’s burial, serving as a significant testament to the cultural practices of the time.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager