Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Diving for Pearls Goes Back 7500 Years

Archaeologists in Abu Dhabi have reported the discovery of a pearl they have radiocarbon dates to 5800-5600 BC. The pearl came from a Neolithic village on an island in the Persian Gulf. Of course any one pearl might have washed up on the beach or what have you, but actually quite a few sizable pearls have come from Neolithic sites in the region, enough that archaeologists think they were being intentionally sought.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Occam's Razor would suggest that they weren't so much diving for pearls as they were diving for edible molluscs.

That would suggest the pearls were NOT intentionally sought - after all, you can't see which molluscs contain pearls before you open them! - and that instead it was the meat that was actually being sought, and whatever pearls happened to be found as well were an extra (and unpredictable) perk.

Also, they may not have even been diving, depending on whether it can be determined which kind of mollusc actually produced the pearls. We tend to associate pearls with oysters, but they are also produced (less frequently) by clams and mussels, both of which can be harvested from mud flats or exposed rocks without requiring swimming.

As an archaeologist, you really should strive to avoid making such absolute specific claims as "Diving for Pearls Goes Back 7500 Years", especially when the sources you cite don't actually make such claims themselves.