It's perhaps not surprising that the wearing of personal ornaments goes back a long way into history. Any major civilisation you can think of had an idea about how to present themselves nicely. But a recent find suggests it may have been even older than you might suspect.

Researchers have turned up collections of shells in Morocco from around 82,000 years ago which were used as jewellery. They have had holes deliberately drilled through them, presumably for use as necklaces, and are coloured with pigments. The shells had been brought a long way inland.

Scientists are particularly interested as these are amongst the earliest examples of people apparently using symbols, items unconnected to their bodies, to convey ideas.

"The common element among such ornaments is that they transmit meaning to others." commented Francesco d'Errico, director of research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. "They convey an image of you that is not just your biological self."

The shells show that there must have been a system of trading and collecting in place, which gives evidence of modern human thinking and organisation. It just goes to show that as long as people have been thinking and communicating they've been deriving pleasure from collectibles.  ____________________________________________________________

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