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Personal ornaments

Wearing ornaments is a universal human custom. Known nowadays as jewellery, ornamental objects act as symbols communicate information about an individual’s personal and social status, their beliefs and affiliations. Between 18,000 and 12,000 years ago personal ornaments were often made from bone, antler and ivory. These skilfully crafted pieces added to a repertoire of beads made simply by perforating shells and animal teeth without modifying their form. Decorated with patterns, shaped as animals or embellished with figurative engravings, these items might have acted as totems, amulets, badges, medals or symbols of power. Although their symbolism can no longer be read, it is possible to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that went into their production.

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