A unique green stone bracelet discovered beside ancient human remains in a Siberian cave is ‘the oldest ever found’ dating back around 40,000 years, say Russian experts.
The intricate modern-looking piece of polished jewellery - perhaps belonging to a prehistoric princess - was made of chlorite by the Denisovans, a long extinct early human grouping, it is believed.
The remarkable bracelet was found in the Altai Mountain range in 2008, but it is only now that pictures have emerged showing it in all its glory, including a reconstruction of how it would have looked at the time.
Experts who have spent years examining the bracelet say evidence suggests it was an exceptionally rare item of the era and likely held great significance for the wearer, reported The Siberian Times.
In addition, the level of skill and expertise required to create the piece has led to speculation that these earliest humans were more technologically advanced than previously thought, with the Denisovans seemingly more skilled than Homo sapiens or Neanderthals.
Scientists found that a hole had been drilled in part of the bracelet with such precision that it could only have been done with a high-rotation drill similar to those used today.
It was also carefully polished, with a heavy pendant added in the centre, probably hanging from a short leather strap.
Yet the archaeologists have ruled out that the bracelet was made in a later era and buried with the earlier, Denisovan remains.
Scientists also noted it was made of chlorite, a stone found more than 150 miles away, suggesting the bracelet was of significance at the time.
This unique jewellery is currently held at the Museum of History and Culture of the Peoples' of Siberia and the Far East in the city of Novosibirsk.
Head of the museum Irina Salnikova said: 'The skills of its creator were perfect. Initially we thought that it was made by Neanderthals or modern humans, but it turned out that the master was Denisovan.
The bracelet was discovered inside the famous Denisova Cave, which is renowned for its archaeological finds including the bones of a woolly mammoth and woolly rhino.