It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


100,000 year old Jewellery discovered

page: 1

log in


posted on Jun, 23 2006 @ 08:06 AM
Yet again the date when "modern" humans (in terms of culture) appeared has been pushed back significantly:

Two tiny shells have been confirmed as the world's oldest known items of jewellery, probably used on a necklace about 100,000 years ago.

It's more than just a pretty trinket: the shells have forced scientists to rethink their ideas on when human culture and language first developed.

The shells were discovered in the early 1930s by in cave of Skhul in Israel, but have recently been re-assessed.

As is pointed out in the piece, current human physiology appeared about 200,000 years ago but the mainstream view, until now at least, is that sophisticated culture (art, symbolic language, music etc) didn't appear until the "culture explosion" in Europe about 45,000 years ago. From the little I know of the subject I had always thought this an unlikely position.

What the Jewellery was used for is anyones guess:

Dr Stringer said: "Looking at the range of things people use today for things like pendants and jewellery, it could be status, it could be wealth, it could be the sign of a marriage contract, it could be bling bling."

I personally like the bling-bling idea. I have the mental image of this guy sat in his cave, draped in furs, surrounded by pre-historic "honies" and covered in drilled sea-shells.

I'm sure this dating of the jewellery and what it implies will bring about an great debate, as these finds always do. I'd be interested to here the opinions of members with expertise in this area, and if anyone can find any pictures that would be great.


posted on Jun, 23 2006 @ 08:12 AM
In a sense its silly to think that any member of the species sapiens was different from the average modern human. Intellectualized Culture doesn't fossilize, so we are just left with worked stones, and, very rarely, things like this. But their Mental World was almost certainly as rich and complex as our own.

I mean, Homo sapiens first appears around 500,000 years ago.

And, if you think about it, the 'rich mental world' of modern man probably came into existence along with the ability to make tools anyway, so it might've started around 2.5 million years ago.

posted on Jun, 23 2006 @ 09:15 AM

Originally posted by Nygdan
And, if you think about it, the 'rich mental world' of modern man probably came into existence along with the ability to make tools anyway, so it might've started around 2.5 million years ago.

I broadly agree with what you are saying. However there is possibly a distinction between making something for entirely for practical purposes (such as tools) and producing items with no (obvious) practical value (jewellery, cave paintings).

This of course may just reflect that the populations who were creating the jewellery had access to abundant food sources and would only need to hunt and gather a couple of hours a day - they could spend the rest of the time decorating themselves with shells and discussing conspiricy theories.

posted on Jun, 23 2006 @ 10:22 AM

originally posted by FatherLukeDuke
there is possibly a distinction between making something for entirely for practical purposes (such as tools) and producing items with no (obvious) practical value (jewellery, cave paintings).

I agree...there was no practical value. However, these early modern humans had a need to decorate and paint for two that they become distinguishable from another tribe and in order to facilitate their religious beliefs. Also, items of jewellery could have been items for trade.

The origin of modern Homo sapiens is not yet resolved. Two extreme scenarios have been proposed. According to the first, the distribution of anatomical traits in modern human populations in different regions was inherited from local populations of Homo erectus and intermediate "archaic" forms. This "Multiregional Hypothesis" states that all modern humans evolved in parallel from earlier populations in Africa, Europe and Asia, with some genetic intermixing among these regions. Support for this comes from the similarity of certain minor anatomical structures in modern human populations and preceding populations of Homo erectus in the same regions.

A different model proposes that a small, relatively isolated population of early humans evolved into modern Homo sapiens, and that this population succeeded in spreading across Africa, Europe, and Asia -- displacing and eventually replacing all other early human populations as they spread. In this scenario the variation among modern populations is a recent phenomenon. Part of the evidence to support this theory comes from molecular biology, especially studies of the diversity and mutation rate of nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA in living human cells.From these studies an approximate time of divergence from the common ancestor of all modern human populations can be calculated. This research has typically yielded dates around 200,000 years ago, too young for the "Multiregional Hypothesis." Molecular methods have also tended to point to an African origin for all modern humans, implying that the ancestral population of all living people migrated from Africa to other parts of the world -- thus the name of this interpretation: the "Out of Africa Hypothesis."

Whichever model (if either) is correct, the oldest fossil evidence for anatomically modern humans is about 130,000 years old in Africa, and there is evidence for modern humans in the Near East sometime before 90,000 years ago.

And, on jewellery, etc...(from my most quoted author lately):

The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams (Thames and Hudson) pg 98

...the making of blades and pigment processing using grindstones date back to 140,000 years ago. Long distance exchange and shellfishing started about 140,000 years ago. Bone tools and mining are about 100,000 years old. Ostrich eggshell bead-making started between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, but present evidence suggests that the species of art that we call representational images may date back to between only 30,000 and 40,000 years ago.

[edit on 23-6-2006 by masqua]

posted on Jun, 24 2006 @ 05:16 PM
I 've allways held with the idea that as the ultimate tool using animal our love of owning and displaying items, useful or just for the Bling, is a cultural need that revolves around breeding.

If I have lots of tools I can find, capture, and kill food for my mate. I have lots more tools than the other guy so I can care for, house, clothe, and protect my mate and her offspring better. So she's better off choosing me..... etc, etc.

Ultimate end to that is displaying jewellery shows that I am so capable of providing for my self and mate that I have time to make stuff with no purpose other than decoration. Big hit with all the hunter gatherer honies.

As an aside to this line of thought I add the following:

Since I don't have to kill my food everyday to provide for my mate, I show my ability to provide for a mate with a corner office, red Vette, and a Rolex.

edited for spelling, still didn't get 'em all

[edit on 24-6-2006 by rollinoffset]

top topics

log in