Oldest Gold Artifact Image 1
2002 of 3588

Oldest Gold Artifact (Image 1)

July 2, 2010
Oldest Gold Artifact (Image 1) Reconstructed turquoise and gold necklace that, at 4,000 years old, is currently the oldest worked gold artifact found in the Americas. The necklace was found at the base of a human skull that was discovered in a burial pit dating to ca. 2000 B.C. Archaeologists reconstructed the necklace as they believe it would have looked originally. The necklace was discovered by Mark Aldenderfer, a professor of anthropology at The University of Arizona, and his research team, who excavated a site in the Peruvian Andes of South America, near Lake Titicaca. The site, Jiskairumoko, is located in a drainage basin where groups of hunters and gatherers were beginning to make the transition to a more settled existence. Dates for the Archaic period, when Jiskairumoko was inhabited by these people, are as early as 5,400 years ago and ending about 4,000 years ago. The necklace may have belonged to someone with an elevated rank in the community. Carbon-14 dates for Jiskairumoko range from 2155 to 1936 B.C., making the necklace--at about 4,000 years old--some 600 years older than the previous earliest known gold artifacts in South America, or anywhere else in the Americas. The artist who created the Jiskairumoko necklace hammered gold until it was flat enough to roll into small cylindrical beads. The necklace has nine gold beads that are interspaced with several smaller green stones and a turquoise bead in the center. These materials were not available from the Titicaca Basin, requiring either a trade or a trip of some distance to acquire the gold and turquoise, or the finished necklace. This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant SBR 98-16313 (Date of Image: 2002-2003) [See Related Image.]

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