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The Primal Urge to Adorn

It's time we gave some props to our Neanderthal kin. More than hairy brutes, they probably created art and had the ability to think in the abstract, and even speak, according to the latest research. But what we care about today is that they may have made jewelry, too. (Check out the full story reported in the New York Times:

Seashells and feathers and bird claws were all probably used to adorn the body, at least as far back as 70,000 years ago, whether for ritual or to signify status or to go out on a Saturday night. Not too far a throw from the bird ornaments found in the north highlands of ancient Peru, dating to ca. 800-ca. 500 B.C.E.  Or the jewelry that referenced natural forms, like the swallows and hummingbirds and dragonflies and flowers, popular in the Victorian era. 

It's becoming increasingly clear that Neanderthals weren't simply copying the crafts of their human cousins, the neighbors next door. Their cave communications were typically abstract, and though their drawings might not have portrayed the local fauna (those fabulous bison!), the ochre lines--given the challenges of preparing the materials and entering a deep, dark space--were probably profoundly symbolic utterances, like minimalist art. 

Suffice to say, wearing jewelry is a primal urge, and we've been at it for millennia. (And not just for humans: necklaces have been found on dogs buried in graves dating back 14,000 years.) What better way to proclaim your pride in being Positively Prehistoric than with a dinosaur brooch by Exquisite Eons? You're in good company, fellow fossils! Our Neanderthal kin would approve.


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