Middle East

World's oldest pearl discovered near Abu Dhabi

The pearl is round, shiny and appears light pink in color Image copyright AFP
Image caption Authorities say the discovery is proof that pearls have been traded since Neolithic times

The world's oldest natural pearl has been discovered on an island off Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The 8,000-year-old pearl was found during excavations at Marawah Island which also revealed the earliest architecture in the UAE.

Authorities said the discovery proved that pearls had been traded in the region since Neolithic times.

The pearl will go on display later this month at the Louvre gallery, Abu Dhabi.

"The discovery of the oldest pearl in the world in Abu Dhabi makes it clear that so much of our recent economic and cultural history has deep roots that stretch back to the dawn of prehistory," said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chairman of Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The small pearl was found in the floor of a room during excavations at Marawah Island

Archaeologists used radiocarbon dating to determine that the pearl dated back to between 5800 and 5600 BC. Pearls were at the time likely worn as jewellery and used to trade with Mesopotamia - ancient Iraq - for ceramics and other goods, according to Emerati experts.

The excavations at Marawah Island, which focused on numerous collapsed stone structures, also revealed ceramics, beads made of shell and stone, and flint arrowheads.

The "Abu Dhabi Pearl", as it has been dubbed, will be displayed as part of the Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit "10,000 Years of Luxury", opening on 30 October.

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