Tuesday, April 1, 2008
The oldest known gold artifact in the Americas is a necklace from Peru, according to University of Arizona anthropology professor Mark Aldenderfer. The necklace comes from a village in the Jiskairumoko range near Lake Titicaca and consists of gold that had been hammered and rolled into nine cylindrical beads, then strung with turquoise on a wool string.
Radiocarbon dating places the manufacture of the necklace from 2155 to 1936 B.C., which makes this item about 600 years older than the next oldest gold artifact that has been discovered the Americas and the oldest example of metalworking of any kind in the Americas.
Gold metallurgy is almost always associated with agricultural societies. Since the materials used in the necklace are not found in the Titicaca basin, the existence of the necklace implies the region had trade routes and a hereditary elite.
Although this discovery was made in 2004, Professor Alenderfer and his team delayed publication in order to have the gold chemically analyzed and to minimize the risk of looters damaging the site before excavation was complete.