Ancient Child’s Grave in Jordan Reveals Intricacies of 9,000-Year-Old Neolithic Society Through Ornate Necklace

by Santiago Fernandez
7 comments
Neolithic Culture

A decorative necklace recovered from a child’s burial site in Jordan offers intricate insights into the social structures and customs of Neolithic civilization. The fully reconstructed necklace is currently displayed at Petra’s new museum in Jordan. Credit is attributed to Alarashi et al., 2023, in the journal PLOS ONE, under the license CC-BY 4.0.

Investigating the Multifaceted Role of Body Ornamentation in Jordan

The study, recently published in PLOS ONE, led by Hala Alarashi from Spain’s Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and France’s Université Côte d’Azur, along with various experts, examines a single ornate necklace. This necklace, discovered in a juvenile grave in ancient Jordan, brings new perspectives to the intricate social relationships and roles within Neolithic societies.

The Importance of Bodily Adornments in Cultural Studies

Body ornaments serve as potent symbols that express cultural norms and individual identities, rendering them indispensable tools for the investigation of ancient societies. In this particular research, Alarashi and her team focus on an array of materials that embellished an eight-year-old child’s body, interred in a burial site in the Neolithic settlement of Ba’ja in Jordan, which dates back to between 7400 and 6800 BCE.

Particulars of the Finding

The researchers studied over 2,500 multicolored stones and shells, two unique amber beads—currently the most ancient known in the Levant region—along with a substantial stone pendant and a meticulously carved mother-of-pearl ring. Through compositional, craft-based, and spatial analyses, the researchers deduced that these materials once constituted a singular, composite, multi-row necklace that had since disintegrated. The reconstructed original necklace is now showcased in the museum at Petra, located in southern Jordan.

Interpretations and Broader Implications

The unearthed multi-row necklace ranks among the most ancient and remarkable Neolithic artifacts, granting new perspectives on the funerary customs of high-status individuals during that era. The fabrication of the necklace likely demanded intricate craftsmanship and the procurement of exotic materials from different regions. The necklace serves as a lens through which complex societal interactions among community members in Ba’ja—including craftsmen, merchants, and authoritative figures who would commission such works—are uncovered, certainly warranting further academic inquiry into this Neolithic community.

The researchers commented, “The act of adorning the deceased child serves as a link between the realms of life and death: This is the discovery and reconstruction of an unparalleled necklace from the 9,000-year-old settlement of Ba’ja, Jordan.”

Reference: “Threads of Memory: Reviving the Ornament of a Deceased Child at the Neolithic Village of Ba`ja (Jordan)” by Hala Alarashi et al., published on 2 August 2023, in PLOS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0288075

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Neolithic Culture

What is the main subject of the article?

The main subject of the article is the discovery of a 9,000-year-old ornate necklace in a child’s grave in Jordan, and its implications for understanding the social intricacies and funerary practices of Neolithic culture.

Where was the necklace discovered?

The necklace was discovered in a child’s grave at the Neolithic village of Ba’ja in Jordan.

Who conducted the study of the necklace?

The study was led by Hala Alarashi of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Spain and the Université Côte d’Azur in France, along with a team of other experts.

What materials make up the necklace?

The necklace is comprised of over 2,500 colorful stones and shells, two unique amber beads, a large stone pendant, and a delicately engraved mother-of-pearl ring.

What does the necklace reveal about Neolithic society?

The necklace provides new perspectives on the social complexities, including roles and interactions among community members such as artisans, traders, and high-status authorities, as well as funerary practices of Neolithic society.

Where can the reconstructed necklace be viewed?

The fully reconstructed necklace is currently on display at the new museum in Petra, southern Jordan.

What is the significance of body adornments according to the study?

According to the study, body adornments like this necklace are powerful symbols that express cultural norms and individual identities, making them crucial for the study of ancient societies.

What is the time period to which the necklace dates?

The necklace dates back to between 7400 and 6800 BCE, making it one of the oldest known Neolithic artifacts of its kind.

What academic journal published the study?

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE on 2 August 2023.

Are there plans for further research on this subject?

The article suggests that the necklace and its intricate details certainly warrant further academic inquiries into Neolithic culture, particularly its complex societal interactions.

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7 comments

John Smith October 15, 2023 - 11:19 am

Wow, this is mind-blowing! To think that a single necklace can tell us so much about a society that existed 9,000 years ago. Its like a time capsule.

Reply
Mike Harris October 15, 2023 - 12:29 pm

This stuff is why I love archaeology. It’s not just about digging up old things; it’s about reconstructing lost worlds. so cool.

Reply
David Lee October 15, 2023 - 12:41 pm

Its intriguing how one artifact can redefine what we know about a time period. Makes you wonder what else is out there waiting to be discovered.

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Jane Doe October 15, 2023 - 3:40 pm

Didn’t know jewelry had such deep roots. Makes me see my grandma’s heirlooms in a new light, you know?

Reply
Linda Brown October 15, 2023 - 7:32 pm

Any idea where I can read the full PLOS ONE paper? The details here are fascinating but I’d love to deep dive into the nitty gritty.

Reply
Emily Johnson October 16, 2023 - 1:18 am

I’d love to see this necklace in person. Sounds like it’s a piece of art and history combined. Wonder how much work went into making it?

Reply
Sarah Adams October 16, 2023 - 8:33 am

Do they know anything about the child? So sad to think they died so young, but their memory lives on in this extraordinary find.

Reply

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