Golden hair ring and the oldest comb in Great Britain
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Gold has symbolized luxury, status and power since ancient times. Jewelry made from this noble metal was popular back in the Bronze Age, but only the richest and most respected people could wear them. In the graves of that time, archaeologists find gold objects and jewelry that are well preserved, because the beauty of gold is timeless.
Archaeological discovery from Wales
An ancient burial site was discovered during road construction in South Glamorgan, Wales. The finding was studied by specialists from the Red River Archeology Group. Archaeologists found out that the burial was made in the Middle Bronze Age (1300-1150 BC). When examining the remains, it was not possible to determine whether they belonged to a woman or a man: the buried person was cremated.
A golden hair ring of great craftsmanship was found in the burial. A Bronze Age jeweler decorated it with an intricate and delicate herringbone pattern. This finding shows the high status of the buried person. The golden ring with a diameter of 11 mm is made very skillfully, with attention to every small detail. Even after spending 3,000 years underground, the hair decoration has been perfectly preserved.
Scientists believe that people of the Bronze Age carefully chose grave goods. According to the beliefs of that time, things from the burial served a person in the afterlife. Therefore, the best clothes and jewelry were chosen for burial, and valuable things and household items were placed in the grave.
The oldest wooden comb?
A fragment of a comb was also found in the grave in South Glamorgan. Just like the golden ring, the comb was made in 1300-1150 BC, it lay in the soil for more than 3 millennia. This is the oldest wooden comb discovered in the whole of Great Britain.
Most often, wood does not remain in the soil for a very long time, unlike gold, which can’t be affected by moisture or an aggressive environment. Discovering a well-preserved wooden artifact is a great luck. A Roman miniature comb, made in 140-180 A.D., was considered the oldest in the United Kingdom until a recent discovery was made. The new comb surpasses it in antiquity by at least 1000 years.
The finding from South Glamorgan is a fragment of a wooden comb with 8 preserved comb teeth, its length is only 3.6 cm. The comb was burned during the cremation, which subsequently saved it from complete decomposition in soil.
Representatives of the Red River Archeology Group gave an interview to the British newspaper The Guardian.
Director of the archaeological team Mark Collard said: “We’re always finding bits of metal and other artifacts but finding something like a comb is unique. It’s a rare glimpse into the personal life of bronze age people.”
Project manager David Gilbert also stressed the importance of the discovery for anthropology. He stated that the comb found in the burial proves how reverently the ancients treated their appearance and what role the small nuances and details played in the image of a person even in those distant times. Yet, undoubtedly, “the gold ring is the most eye-catching object to accompany the cremation,” Mr. Gilbert emphasized.
In the National Museum of Wales (Amgueddfa Cymru), the discovered artifacts also caused a stir. Adam Gwilt, the principal curator for prehistory, said: “This cremation burial, with its accompanying gold ring and wooden comb, gives us a glimpse of life and death in bronze age times. The gold ring is a very early, well made, and a small example of its type, offering new insight into the development of hair-rings as a form of early jewelry across Britain and Ireland.”
Archaeological findings confirm that gold is a metal with a rich history. Gold was essential in different cultures due to its rarity and beauty since antiquity. Jewelry made of gold symbolizes wealth, power and timeless glory.
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