Discovery of the world’s oldest natural pearl in Arabia

The world’s oldest natural pearl has been discovered by French researchers at the Laboratoire Archeologies ET Sciences De L’Antiquite (ARSCAN) (CNRS) which is believed to be originated between 5547 and 5235 BC. This pearl was discovered in the Emirate of Umm al Quwain, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Until now researchers along with the jewelers and gemologists has believed that the oldest pearl in the world is the 5000 year old (dates back to 3000 B.C.)Jomon Pearl. This pearl was discovered from prehistoric site in Japan.

However, with this finding and previous discoveries of natural pearls on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula proved that the earliest pearl oyster fishing took place in this part of the region. This newly discovered oldest pearl which is about 7500 years old, measures 0.07 inches in diameter and is just the last of the series that were unearthed at the archeological sites in the Arabian Peninsula.

Researchers and archeologists until now have unearthed a total of 101 Neolithic pearls that included the large pearl oyster species named Pinctada margaritifera to the smallest pearl oysters species that were much easier to collect and were named Pinctada radiata. Researchers are of the opinion that the presence of the natural pearls at many of the Neolithic sites in the Arabian Peninsula establishes the fact that they were collected not only in the Persian Gulf but also along the shores of the Indian Ocean that included the Sea of Oman and Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman.

Nevertheless, no ancient pearls were found in India, Egypt, Mesopotamia and china, even though some of the pearls discovered in Mesopotamia dates back from 3200 to 3000 B.C. Scientists approve to the fact that the natural pearls played an important role in the funeral rites of the ancient people as the Umm al Quwain pearl was not drilled but had been recovered from a grave at the site’s necropolis. In other burial sites the pearls were placed on the deceased’s face that is often above the upper lip.

The researchers further noted that the discovery of ancient pearls duly establishes the fact that the ancient fishing tradition no longer exists today. Experts are of the view that even though diving for pearls is a difficult and dangerous proposition, the mother-of-pearl was an important resource in the economy of local Neolithic societies. During the fifth millennium BC, half-drilled natural pearls were linked with the men and full drilled pearls were associated with women.

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