What May Be Oldest American Artwork Discovered by Accident in Alaska
Archaeologists have discovered what may well be the oldest artifact ever found in North America. The 12,300 year-old bone pendant was found by accident by experts digging at a site in the Tanana Basin area in Alaska, where they were looking for a group of animal hide tents.
“It made my heart stop when I saw [the pendant],” said Dr. Ben Potter, leader of the excavation project. “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,” he added.
The cross hatched pendant was found within the outlines of an animal hide tent, which suggests that a group of people used the area as a camp.
The archaeologists found further bone fragments, including a bear jawbone with a canine removed. They believe that the fragments were collected to make other items of jewelry.
Despite being truly ancient, the bone pendant is not the oldest artifact ever discovered. That honor belongs to a staggering 42,000 year-old series of paintings in the Caves of Nerja, near Malaga, Spain.
The Alaskan pendant is the latest in a series of astonishing archaeological discoveries that are changing the way we understand the lives, social customs, and artistic endeavors of ancient civilizations.
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