A 50.000 year old social network of world’s first “bling”: https://t.co/HhuBa62bjb
— Neanderthal Museum (@Neandertal1) January 17, 2022
Comparing the outer diameter of the beads, the diameter of the holes inside and the thickness of the walls of the eggshell, scientists found that about 50 thousand years ago, people in Eastern and Southern Africa began to make almost identical beads. These findings suggest that the people who made the beads exchanged them with other people who lived at great distances from them. Scientists believe that the exchange and trade of these ornaments was an ancient network of social connections that helped to share symbolic messages and strengthen alliances.
Ostrich eggshell beads are among the oldest forms of jewelry found in the archaeological record, although they were not the very first used by Homo sapiens. Scientists believe that men and women first began to decorate themselves with reddish ochre about 200 thousand years ago, and 75 thousand years ago they began to wear beads.
Nevertheless, the jewelry industry itself originated about 50,000 years ago in Africa, when the first beads were made from the shell of ostrich eggs — the earliest standardized form of jewelry known to archaeologists.