A Seriously Old Pearl
Mysteries and miracles abound in the Kimberley region. We are surrounded by astounding natural beauty and ancient cultural heritage, and there is always more to discover. Given our surroundings it shouldn’t be surprising that a rare and amazing object that was discovered several years ago has recently been confirmed to be about 2,000 years old. The almost perfectly round shaped pearl, which was found buried 70 centimetres underground, is the first to be found in an Australian archeological site.
Scientists have found that the pearl was growing inside its oyster shell for over 10 years. It was found along with many other shells in a midden in the Brremangurey Rockshelter in the Admiralty Gulf. The area is know for its extensive rock art and was being excavated in efforts to discover more about the indigenous history of the area, which stretches back at least 12,000 years.
Initially, given how round the pearl was, there was some doubt over whether it could be natural or not. Carbon dating to ascertain its age would have damaged the specimen, so shells in the midden were dated instead. The pearl was also scanned to discover that its inner structure was consistent with those grown naturally, not created through modern methods.
Although pearls themselves are not known to be of great importance to local indigenous cultures, the oyster shells that create them were central to trading between groups in the Kimberley region and the Central Desert. The age and beauty of the pearl makes it one of a kind, and it is currently on display at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Freemantle.
The seriously old pearl is just one of the natural wonders from our part of the world, and we are proud to be sharing it.