Oldest jewellery in East Asia is crafted 37,000-year-old shell

Shell jewellery and ornaments up to 42,000 years old, discovered in East Timor, have overturned long-held assumptions that the first inhabitants of South-East Asia were culturally unsophisticated.

The finds represent the oldest evidence of ornament and jewellery-making in the region.

The most ancient example of shell jewellery is 82,000 years old and was found in Morocco, although some shell art may date even further back. As humans migrated out of Africa, shell jewellery started appearing in the European archaeological record from about 50,000 years ago.

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