Round, natural pearls are rarely found in nature, so when archaeologists from the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the University of New England (UNE) uncovered a 2000-year-old near-round pearl on the north Kimberly coast of Western Australia, they described it as 'irreplaceable.'
The details of the findings have been published in the journal Australian Archaeology.
The paper's lead author, Associate Professor Kat Szabó from UOW, explained the challenges in determining the pearl's age, saying: "Pearls have not been recovered before from ancient sites in Australia. Since the find is unique, analysis could not damage or take samples from any portion of the pearl, so researchers from UOW developed a range of non-destructive analyses to gather more information."
Radiocarbon analysis was used on the surrounding shell material to evaluate its age.
Furthermore, in order to determine that it was indeed a natural pearl, researchers utilized micro-computed tomography to examine the pearl's internal structures.
Brent Koppel, the paper's second author, noted, "This analysis confirmed that it was a natural pearl that had grown inside a small pearl oyster for over a decade before the animal was harvested for eating,"
The pearl will be displayed at the Western Australian Maritime Museum starting June 20th.
Speaking of rare pearls, did you see this story back in February? A rare pearl found inside seafood stew worth over $10K