Buried in a desert cave in western Morocco, archaeologists unearthed something unusual – half-inch-long snail shells, 33 of them, with holes drilled through them. environment. It was a necklace, dating from 142,000 to 150,000 years ago: the oldest known jewel in the world.
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It was not the first time that such ancient jewelry had been discovered. In 2013, an excavation site in present-day Croatia revealed jewelry made from eagle talons dating back to 130,000 years ago. The talons had cut marks, polished facets, and abrasions that indicated they were mounted on jewelry.
Since eagles were among the most impressive predators in the Neanderthal environment, they had special value, and anthropologists believe that creating jewelry from their talons meant that these ancient peoples wanted to give themselves the characteristics of the mighty. eagle. The discovery went a long way in reducing prejudices about Neanderthals as clumsy, uncivilized brutes.
Even as the concept of adorning oneself evolved over the ages, Egypt and Mesopotamia were the first two ancient civilizations to initiate organized production of jewelry. The Egyptians, in fact, were among the first to wear living jewelry in the shape of insects – ancient soldiers wore scarabs in battle, as they were believed to have supernatural powers of protection against enemies.
There was a revival of the trend in Victorian times in England when people began to develop a fascination with the natural world. Wealthy women often wore a butterfly or other insect-shaped brooch pinned to their chest, with moths, spiders, wasps, and bees being the most popular insects. The bee, in particular, was a symbol of loyalty, dedication, and diligence, as it would die to protect its hive by biting other creatures. In the 1800s, the French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte chose the bee as his emblem.
Insect jewelry is always in fashion. In 2006, Madagascar’s giant hissing cockroach achieved prominent status in living jewelry, when fashion designer Jared Gold introduced the “cockroach brooch” trend. Her gold cockroaches were hand decorated with Austrian Swarovski crystals, accessorized with a leash set, and packaged as ready-to-wear jewelry.
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