Stone Age Burial Garment Found In France Was Adorned With Shells And Deer Teeth
The south of France is known for its luxurious film festivals and high-end fashion.
And now it seems the famous south of France glamour may date back as far as the Stone Age.
Archaeologists studying a skeleton of a French man who from more than 7,000 years ago have discovered that he was wearing an intricate jacket adorned with sea shells.
The man, who was between the ages of 20 and 50 and around 5ft 5 inches (165cm) tall, was buried in Avignon, southern France, between 4950 and 4800BC. He was found wearing a jacket embroidered with 158 conical shells and 16 red deer teeth.
‘For the first time in the Mediterranean early Neolithic, this study led to the identification of a garment adorned with sophisticated embroidery using 158 red-coloured shells and 16 red deer canines,’ the scientists from Bordeaux Montaigne University in the south of France said in a research paper.
Although the cloth of the jacket has now withered away, the hard sea shells have remained intact for over 7,000 years.
The seashells were taken from a species called Columbella rustica, a sea snail found across shores in the Mediterranean.
They were sewn onto the jacket in intricate rows in an alternating pattern, with shells facing either up or down.
A total of 16 canine teeth from red deer were also found alongside the shells. And the teeth may have been deliberately painted red, according to a chemical analysis of the jacket.
‘The presence of red deer canines is unique in the region, and the combination with columbella is unique too,’ study author Aurélie Zemour of Bordeaux Montaigne University told IBTimes UK.
The unique combination of sea shells and teeth could indicate that Europeans living in the Stone Age traded across country borders, the researchers said.
‘Calibrated dates allow us to reliably place it in the early 5th millennium, reinforcing evidence for long distance intercultural relationships in Europe during the Neolithic,’ the researchers said.
The grave of the man was first discovered in the 1970s and has been stored at the Calvet Museum, Avignon, until now. Scientists studied the jacket using 3D laser recording and field anthropological methods.
They were able to recreate what the jacket would have looked like, but were unable to piece together the man’s skeleton as many parts are missing.
The hands, skull and legs of the man have disappeared from the grave. This may be due to construction work during the Middle Ages, the researchers said.
‘Burials like this are not so common, but there is a diversity of burial practices in this period,’ Zemour said.