Among animal remains and primitive tools uncovered in Alaska, researchers have discovered what they believe is the region’s oldest artwork.
While digging in an area once thought to contain a settlement with ‘tents’ covered in animal hide, the archaeologists unearthed a pendant made from bone.
And along the edge of this 12,300-year-old piece of jewellery is a series of delicate ‘crosshatching.’
The find is by no means the oldest example of artwork in the world. This title is believed to belong to a series of paintings in Nerja Caves, 35 miles (56km) east of Malaga, said to be 42,000 years old.
The bone pendant was found on the Mead site at the Tanana Basin, Delta Junction in Alaska by researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Mead is what’s known as a ‘multicomponent site’ made up of at least four areas of archaeological interest ranging from 14,000 to 1,400 years ago.
It is said to be one of the oldest sites in the Western Hemisphere and excavations have previously found lithic and organic tools, and animal remains.
The dig is being led by Dr Ben Potter.
He said during a recent lecture at the university: ‘It made my heart stop when I saw [the pendant].’
‘Art serves as a way to fix social boundaries. These could be a way to communicate.
‘They could be the first evidence we have for social boundary maintenance in high-latitude North America.’
The pendant was found within tent outlines, suggesting a group used the area as a ‘base camp’, and its presence suggests women may have lived on the site.