9,000 years old: Child Buried with Stunning Jewelry

More than 2,500 beads found on a young girl turn out to have been an extraordinary multi-row neck ornament, which contained exotic imported stuffs

Ruth Schuster
Aug 13, 2023

Around 9,000 years ago in southern Jordan, a young girl died and was buried in a crouched position on her left side with what turned out to be around 2,500 beads.

The beads were found mainly lying on the child’s neck and chest. Most were fashioned from local limestone but some were made of exotic imported seashells and turquoise, report archaeologists investigating the burial in the Neolithic village of Ba’ja.

The girl, estimated to have died at about age 8, also had a delicately engraved mother-of-pearl ring found lying on her chest and a double-perforated stone buckle, Hala Alarashi and colleagues reported in PLOS ONE last week. (More Images)

The child’s remains had been discovered in 2018 during excavations under the auspices of the Household and Death Project from the Free University of Berlin, which was funded by the German Research Foundation.

Final physical reconstruction of the necklace, today displayed at the new museum of Petra in Jordan. Credit: Photo: A. Burkhardt, , Ba`ja N.P.

Their purpose in the new paper: to reconstruct the girl’s adornments and consider its significance at the time: the pre-pottery Neolithic B period. because this was definitely no mere child’s collection of fripperies. The beads had been part of an elaborately crafted multilayer necklace studded with imported precious stones. The mother-of-pearl ring (a circle, not a jewel for the finger) was the necklace’s centerpiece.

Altogether, the adornment has aesthetic, artisanal and socioeconomic implications for Neolithic society in southern Jordan, says the team.

Extraordinary finery has been found in ancient burials before. Two children were found in Sunghir, Russia, from 34,000 years ago with heaps of grave goods – including more than 10,000 beads made of mammoth tusks. Beads made of animal bone have been found in the context of the Natufian culture in Israel. But nothing like this child’s finery has been found in the Neolithic Levant before.

Tap here top read the full account in the Haaretz!

Tap here for the complete scientific paper (including images).

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