The Mystery of Shells


The use of shells is old in humanity. In Ancient Greece, people used to write the name of “unwanted’ people in a shell. The shells were checked, and the “most voted” were expelled from the city. It was the infamous “ostracism”, an expression that today indicates exile, cast out, banishment.

The Oldest Jewels of the World

The oldest jewels of the world are probably 100,000 years old, and were not made from gold or precious gems. Until recently, the oldest known jewel were found in the Blombos Cave, South Africa: a collection of holed shells - 41 in the total. The specialists believe they were part of a shell necklace with 75,000 years old.

New studies, however, show that the oldest jewels, also made by shells, are still older. Three shells found recently are between 90,000 and 100,000 years old, according to an international research team. Two of the ancient beads were found in the Skhul Cave, Israel. The other one was found in Argel. They all have similar holes, indicating that they belonged to a necklace or a bracelet.

The researchers state that this finding is very important because it sets the moment in which man started being culturally modern (1).

(1) Bonalume, Ricardo Neto, Conchas são "jóia" mais velha do mundo. “Folha online”. Folha de São Paulo Newspaper. Based in the article, “Study Reveals Oldest Jewelry,” by Paul Rincon, BBC News. June 22, 2006.