More than 200 ancient shell necklaces found on La Palma

by Lorraine Williamson
ancient shells found

An enthusiast of speleology accidentally made a remarkable discovery on the island of La Palma. After a report from the discoverer, the government conducted an archaeological investigation and found decorative beads, seashells, and a worked bone.

The accidental discoverer made his find in the area of Salto de Tigalata in Villa de Mazo on the island of La Palma. The site is registered as a burial cave because human remains from the island’s original inhabitants have been found there before. Despite various plundering, parts of the site have been preserved. However, the discovered ‘treasure’ was hidden in a narrow opening of a volcanic tube. According to the researchers, the find was encased in plant material, which kept the pieces intact for nearly a thousand years.

We learn more about our past

The results of the archaeological investigation have now been announced. The Canary Islands government is delighted and emphasises the importance of citizen involvement in such discoveries. They commend the finder, who did not hesitate to inform the authorities. Through such finds, we learn more and more about our past. The mayor of Villa de Mazo also praises the finder and additionally stated a desire to continue stimulating research projects about “our ancestors.”

Although the discovery is very special, it is not unique on the island of La Palma. Similar finds have been made before, although never as large as this one. In the Cueva de Higuera in Barlovento, 68 similar shells were previously found in an earthenware jar.

Ancient beads from oyster shells

This time, the remains were found on the coast in a crevice 100 metres from the entrance of a volcanic tube. Due to the extreme temperature and moisture conditions, it was difficult to map the archaeological finds. After a meticulously executed operation, 225 mollusk beads, mainly from oyster shells, were ultimately found. A worked bone and organic material were also found.

The previously found human remains date from the period between the 10th and 11th centuries. According to archaeologists, this find is approximately 200 years younger. It is not clear if the remains are related.

The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria will research the discovered pieces. Researchers from various specialisations will participate in the investigation, collaborating with private companies and government institutions.

Also read: Important Roman trade centre discovered off the coast of Murcia


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