An ivory pendant found in a cave in Poland is the earliest known example of ornate jewelry made by humans in Eurasia. It is oval in shape and made from mammoth bone. It is not, perhaps, the height of refinement, but it is dated 41,500 years ago.
The decoration pattern is eye-catching: 50 perforation marks in an irregular looped curve.
These continuous incisions could be a count of killed game prey, but they are reminiscent of those shown by another much more recent find, the so-called ‘Blanchard plate’ – from about 25,000 years ago – discovered in the French department of Dordogne and that experts They consider a calendar of the phases of the Moon.
The incisions of the ivory pendant also present astronomical reminiscences: “The resemblance to the lunar analema is surprising”, the researchers affirm in their paper, to which elDiario.es has had access.
An analema is the curve – similar to the symbol of infinity – that the Moon and the Sun describe over the course of a year when viewed from the same position.
By measuring the amount of radioactive carbon present in the remains, the authors dated the pendant, the awl, and the bone fragments to the early Upper Paleolithic (between 42,000 and 37,000 years ago).
The research has been led by Sahra Talamo, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (in Leipzig, Germany) and the University of Bologna (Italy).
Prehistoric jewelers would have tried to imitate and transfer natural patterns in new contexts
Experts recall that in other similar objects, although more recent, found in other excavations in Europe and Asia, the use of the dotted pattern is easier to identify, since, they affirm, prehistoric jewelers would have tried to imitate and transfer natural patterns in new contexts.
Such are the reproductions of the fur of a feline and a trout in the objects found in the cave of Vogelherd (Germany), the reproduction of different types of shells in La Souquette, Abri Castanet and Tuto de Camalhot (France), or the imitation of a horse’s coat in Sungir (Russia).
In addition, the perforations could serve as simple decoration, as seen in the anthropomorphic figurine from Geißenklösterle (Germany), the pierced cane from Sungir and the ivory headbands and needles from Yana, in Siberia, Russia.