Jewellery was 'used by Neanderthals'

First published: 12-01-2010

A recent discovery has found that Neanderthals are possibly responsible for the cognitive thinking to see the beauty in jewellery - something we now take for granted.

Professor Joao Zilhao and his colleagues at Bristol University examined marine shells which have been pigment-stained and perforated and very likely used as neck pendants, found in the Murcia province of south-east Spain.

Further analysis of lumps of red and yellow pigments found with them also concludes that they were used in cosmetics.

Jewellery plays an important part in historical belief as body ornamentation is accepted by archaeologists as evidence for modern behaviour and "symbolic thinking" among early humans, yet it has not been recognised in Neanderthals until now.

Professor Zilhao concluded: "When considering the nature of the cultural and genetic exchanges that occurred between Neanderthals and modern humans at the time of contact in Europe, we should recognise that identical levels of cultural achievement had been reached by both sides."

Neanderthal remains have been discovered between the south of England and most of Europe, save for Scandinavia, as well as regions of the Middle East and as far as Iran.

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