Ivory pendant made from mammoth bone ‘perhaps the earliest known example of ornate jewelry in Eurasia’

Old bling bling! 41,500-year-old decorated ivory pendant made from MAMMOTH bone has been discovered in a cave in Poland and may be the earliest known example of ornate jewelry in Eurasia, study claims

  • The beautiful pendant was found in a cave in Poland in 2010
  • Using radiocarbon dating, researchers have made it 41,500 years old
  • This puts it in the record of the earliest distribution of Homo sapiens in Europe



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An intricately decorated ivory pendant made from mammoth bone has been discovered in Poland and may be the oldest specimen of ornate jewelry found to date in Eurasia.

Dating back about 41,500 years, the pendant puts it in the record of the earliest distribution of Homo sapiens in Europe.

According to researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, it contains patterns of more than 50 punctures in an irregular loop curve and two full holes, which could represent hunting numbers or moon notations.

“If the Stajnia pendant’s loop curve points to a lunar analemma or kill scores, that remains an open question,” said Adam Nadachowski, co-author of the study.

“However, it is fascinating that similar decorations have appeared independently in Europe.”

A 41,500-year-old oval ivory pendant made from mammoth bone (pictured) is the earliest known example of ornate jewelry made by humans in Eurasia, a new study claims

A 41,500-year-old oval ivory pendant made from mammoth bone (pictured) is the earliest known example of ornate jewelry made by humans in Eurasia, a new study claims

What does the pattern on the pendant mean?

It contains patterns of more than 50 punctures in an irregular looping curve and two complete holes, which the researchers say may represent hunting numbers or moon notations.

“If the Stajnia pendant’s loop curve points to a lunar analemma or kill scores, that remains an open question,” said Adam Nadachowski, co-author of the study.

“However, it is fascinating that similar decorations have appeared independently in Europe.”

The pendant was discovered in 2010 in Poland’s Stajnia Cave, along with animal bones and stone tools.

Now, researchers have used radiocarbon dating to assess its age, concluding that the pendant is likely about 41,500 years old.

Sahra Talamo, who led the research, said: ‘Determining the exact age of this jewelry was fundamental to its cultural attribution, and we are excited about the result.

‘This work demonstrates that using the most recent methodological advances in the radiocarbon method allows us to minimize the amount of sampling and achieve highly accurate data with a very small error range.

“If we are to seriously resolve the debate about the emergence of mobile art in Paleolithic groups, we need to radioactively date these ornaments, especially those found during past fieldwork or in complex stratigraphic sequences.”

Using 3D modeling tools, the researchers were able to delve deeper into the pendant’s structure and design.

“Using 3D modeling techniques, the finds were virtually reconstructed and the pendant properly restored, allowing detailed measurements and supporting the description of the decorations,” said co-author Stefano Benazzi.

The pendant was found in 2010 in Stajnia Cave, Poland (pictured) along with a horse bone tool known as an awl.  Experts believe the presence of animal bones next to the pendant may indicate that humans began producing small and transportable art 41,500 years ago.

The pendant was found in 2010 in Stajnia Cave, Poland (pictured) along with a horse bone tool known as an awl.  Experts believe the presence of animal bones next to the pendant may indicate that humans began producing small and transportable art 41,500 years ago.

The pendant was found in 2010 in Stajnia Cave, Poland (pictured) along with a horse bone tool known as an awl. Experts believe the presence of animal bones next to the pendant may indicate that humans began producing small and transportable art 41,500 years ago.

Previous studies have shown that both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens once inhabited the Stajnia Cave.

The researchers now suggest that the pdenant was left there when its creator left the cave on a hunting expedition.

“This piece of jewelry shows the great creativity and extraordinary manual dexterity of members of the Homo sapiens group that occupy the site,” said co-author Wioletta Nowaczewska.

“The thickness of the plate is about 3.7 millimeters and shows an amazing precision in cutting the holes and the two holes to carry it.”

Previous studies have shown that both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens once inhabited the Stajnia Cave

Previous studies have shown that both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens once inhabited the Stajnia Cave

Previous studies have shown that both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens once inhabited the Stajnia Cave

Overall, the researchers hope the fines will help shed light on the spread of Homo sapiens in Poland.

Andrea Picin, co-author of the study, added: ‘The age of the ivory pendant and bone awl found in the Stajnia cave finally show that the spread of Homo sapiens in Poland was already occurring in Central and Western Europe. .

“This remarkable result will change the perspective of how flexible these early groups were and question the monocentric model of diffusion of artistic innovation in the Aurignacian.”

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