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Excavation turns up oldest gold jewelry in the Americas


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http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/04/02/oldest.gold/index.html

Researchers have discovered the oldest piece of gold jewelry
ever found in the Americas, an academic journal reported
Tuesday.

team found the gold necklace near Lake Titicaca in Peru,
according to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences. It’s 4,000 years old – 600 years older than any other
gold jewelry discovered in the Western Hemisphere.

The anthropologist who discovered the gold, Mark Aldenderfer,
told CNN on Tuesday night that he sensed the importance of his
find after noticing a glint while excavating a site with human
remains.

“It appeared to be gold. That’s when I knew we had something
special,” he said. “This was a complete shock.”

He found the necklace about seven years ago, he said, but
researchers kept quiet for fear that looters would raid the
site. They also wanted to allow time for chemical analysis
before announcing their discovery on Tuesday.

Video footage from Peru shows a necklace of nine gold tubes
separated by 10 stones.

The find is important, Aldenderfer said, because it signals the
early emergence of a desire for status among people who lived as
relative equals without a formal leadership system.

The Andean people of that time, Aldenderfer said, had recently
settled down after many generations as hunter-gatherers. Formal
kings would not emerge for hundreds of years.

The person who wore the gold necklace may have sought to
distinguish himself with a status symbol, Aldenderfer said.

The artifact is in the custody of the National Institute of Peru
and may be displayed in a museum, he said.