As if discovering a 40,000-year-old artifact isn’t amazing enough, scientists now believe a bracelet proves that ancient people were much more advanced than initially thought. The piece of jewelry, which experts claim is “the oldest ever found,” is even more unique because of the sophistication used to make it. Archeologists think that the bracelet’s creator used revolutionary technology for the time period, including a tool similar to the modern drill.
THE SKILLS WERE SO ADVANCED THAT RESEARCHERS BELIEVED THAT IT HAD GOTTEN MIXED UP WITH MATERIALS FROM A MUCH LATER PERIOD
“The ancient master was skilled in techniques previously considered not characteristic for the Paleolithic era, such as easel speed drilling, boring tool type, grinding and polishing with a leather and skins of varying degrees of tanning,” Dr. Anatoly Derevyanko, Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, said in an interview with The Siberian Times.
The bracelet was found alongside other artifacts and human remains in the Denisova Cave in Siberia, a site close to Russia’s border with China and Mongolia. Named for the Denisova people, the cave is known for its value in preserving now-extinct animal fossils. Prior to this discovery, the Denisova were believed to more nomadic, primitive and underdeveloped than even the Neanderthals. This new evidence, however, suggests that these ancient people may have been ingenious craftsmen. The skills used to make the bracelet were so advanced that researchers originally believed that it had somehow gotten mixed up with materials from a much later period.
Found in 2008, the bracelet underwent seven years of testing, confirming that the piece was made over 30,000 years before the Stone Age even began.
“The skills of its creator were perfect,” Derevyanko said. “Initially we thought that it was made by Neanderthals or modern humans, but it turned out that the master was Denisovan.”
While only fragments were recovered, researchers were able to recreate the masterpiece visually. The bracelet’s chlorite stone was polished by unknown methods and held in place by a leather strap that was wrapped through a hole in the stone. Through experiments, Derevyanko determined the holes were made by a drill with high rotational speeds and minimal fluctuations. This precision has led scientists to maintain the piece was created by something similar to a modern drill—technology that was thousands of years ahead of its time.
Because of how intricate and detailed it was, scientists speculate the bracelet was likely only worn during special occasion, perhaps by someone highly ranked in society or even Denisovan royalty.
It is the bracelet’s timeless beauty that still captivates, even 40,000 years later.
“The bracelet is stunning,” Derevyanko said. “In bright sunlight it reflects the sun’s rays, at night by the fire it cast a deep shade of green.”
The bracelet is currently displayed at the Museum of History and Culture of the Peoples’ of Siberia and the Far East in Russia.