These little miracles of nature called pearls, probably the most loved gemstones of all time, come in many colors, sizes, and shapes, and have fascinated mankind from distant ages. Not long ago, archaeologists have discovered what is believed to be the oldest natural pearl in the world.
The unique gemstone was discovered during archaeological excavations at a Neolithic site on Marawah Island, about 170 kilometers west of Abu Dhabi (the capital of the United Arab Emirates).
The experts from Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) who examed it using radiocarbon dating concluded that the ancient pearl is nearly 8,000 years old. More exactly, it is dated back to between 5800 and 5600 BC.
In an official press release, Emirates News Agency stated that the discovery "is proof that pearls were being used in the United Arab Emirates nearly 8,000 years ago, and represents the earliest known evidence for pearling yet discovered anywhere in the world".
As we come to know from archeologists, pearls were worn as jewelry during the Neolithic period, falling into the category of luxury goods.
The "Baptism" of the Oldest Natural Pearl in the World
The 8,000-year-old stunning gemstone dating from the Neolithic period was dubbed, symbolically, the 'Abu Dhabi Pearl'.
"The Abu Dhabi Pearl is a stunning find, testimony to the ancient origins of our engagement with the sea. The discovery of the oldest pearl in the world in Abu Dhabi makes it clear that so much of our recent economic and cultural history has deep roots that stretch back to the dawn of prehistory. Marawah Island is one of our most valuable archaeological sites, and excavations continue in the hope of discovering even more evidence of how our ancestors lived, worked, and thrived," commented the Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi.
It was decided that, after being exposed at Louvre Abu Dhabi, the priceless and historically significant 'Abu Dhabi Pearl' will be preserved in the Zayed National Museum.
"The art of pearling required in-depth knowledge of pearl beds and their locations and expert seafaring skills. Once these were mastered by the ancient inhabitants of Marawah, pearling was to remain a mainstay of the United Arab Emirates’s economy for millennia. The late 16th Century Venetian jeweler, Gasparo Balbi, who traveled through the region, mentions the islands off the coast of Abu Dhabi as a source of pearls. The industry flourished until the 1930s", said Emirates News Agency.
It has been suggested that ancient pearls of Marawah were possibly traded with Mesopotamia in exchange for highly-decorated ceramics and other goods.
Now that you know the story behind the oldest natural pearl in the world, we invite you to discover the magical universe of vintage pearl jewelry, where beauty and refinement give birth to a variety of timeless exquisite accessories that are designed to mesmerize and enchant the eyes of the beholder.