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Oldest gold artifact in Americas found by UA prof

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Oldest gold artifact in Americas found by UA prof

by Anne Ryman - Mar. 31, 2008 02:04 PM

The Arizona Republic

PIC: http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/...ace0331-ON.html

Ancient Peruvians may not have been as sophisticated as we are today, but they had good taste in jewelry.

A University of Arizona anthropologist has discovered a 4,000-year-old necklace that has been radiocarbon-dated as the oldest known gold artifact in the Americas.

Professor Mark Aldenderfer found the nine-bead necklace while excavating a burial site in 1999 near Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru.

He delayed publicizing the finding until Monday so anthropologists could finish their work at the site without attracting looters. In 2005, scientists dated the necklace's age at roughly 2100 B.C. Previously discovered gold artifacts were dated at least 600 years later.

Aldenderfer's findings are being published Tuesdayin the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Beyond the excitement of finding gold, the discovery sheds light on how an ancient society lived.

Gold metalwork is complex and demanding and was often thought possible only in societies with sufficient wealth. That wealth arose from food surpluses as people graduated from hunting to cultivating their own crops.

The necklace's discovery calls the theory into question. It suggests that using gold to display wealth happened long before more complex, agricultural societies emerged.

Aldenderfer said whoever owned the necklace likely was important. The bones nearby were too deteriorated to determine if they belonged to a male or female, he said.

"The fact that they buried this with a dead person suggests the person had enough prestige and status and perhaps wealth," he said.

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:coffeetime: For righteous gold artifacts the Musea De Oro in San Jose Costa Rica has THOUSANDS on display. Absolutely massive pieces to the most intricate you'd ever imagine. I spent MANY hours there, photos(IF YOU USE FLASH--YOU ARE IN DEEP DODO) do it no justice. Amazing considering the crude impliments-Tons a au 2 u 2-John

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Probably C-dated the Hemp or Wool twine that was used. Or possibly some of the bones of the dead guy it was found with. :coffeetime:

It only takes a few miligrams of organic material to do carbon-14 dating. Like you said they could have used anything organic associated witht he burial.

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No carbon in gold you say, wow I thought everything in our known world had some carbon in it.

Thats what I get for watching all these science shows on T.V. :coffeetime:

I know CO2 and methane play a roll hydrothermal/geothermal gold deposits but I am not sure there is any C inclusions in the gold when it crytalizes out of the solution. I would not be surprised if there were minerals in gold ore with carbon. Is there a minerologist/geochemist in the house?

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