Researcher: Ancient green beads were fertility amulets

By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Aug 24, 2008 21:41 | Updated Aug 24, 2008 21:49
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1219572113791&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Residents of this part of the Middle East started making jewelry out of green-colored beads when they made the major transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, and they chose the color - instead of white, red, yellow, brown or black - specifically as an amulet for human and agricultural fertility. So claims new research by Dr. Daniella Bar-Yosef of the University of Haifa who said the beads' green hue - which had previously been used for making trinkets - became a symbol of renewal.

Bar-Yosef, of the university's department of maritime civilizations, said archeological evidence collected by Naomi Porat of the Israel Geological Survey of Israel that large amounts of green-colored beads from this era have been found at eight sites around the country; beads of this color were not evident in previous eras. But the material from which the beads were made had to be brought in from distant locations about 100 kilometers away from where the beads were made. Their study has just been published in the Proceedings of the [US] Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Bar-Yosef said the green color was meant to symbolize the green of plants and trees in nature. The cultural change to farming, she continued, brought about higher human fertility rates, but the number of babies who died in infancy also increased. Thus it is also logical, she suggested, that green beads turned into amulets for female fertility and their delivery of healthy, viable babies.

"Even today," concluded Bar-Yosef, "There are many cultures in which green jewels symbolize fertility and health. On the basis of our findings, we can suggest that the course of these beliefs is the beginning of the transition to an agricultural society."


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