A 6,500-year-old gold pendant has been discovered by a Greek hiker in a field, which he handed over to authorities, said an archaeologist on Tuesday.
The flat, roughly ring-shaped prehistoric pendant probably had religious significance and would have been worn on a necklace by a prominent member of society.
Only three such gold artifacts have been discovered during organised digs, archaeologist Georgia Karamitrou-Mendesidi, head of the Greek archaeological service in the northern region where the discovery was made, told The Associated Press.
“It belongs to the Neolithic period, about which we know very little regarding the use of metals, particularly gold,” she said. “The fact that it is made of gold indicates that these people were highly advanced, producing significant works of art.”
She said the pendant, measuring rough 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches, was picked up last year near the town of Ptolemaida, about 90 miles southwest of the northern city of Thessaloniki. Karamitrou-Mendesidi is to present the artifact at a three-day archaeological conference that opened Thursday in
Greek police seized a hoard of 33 similar pieces of hammered gold jewelry from smugglers in 1997.
Karamitrou-Mendesidi said that the woman who found the pendant did not want a reward and preferred to remain anonymous.
In November, archaeologists announced the discovery of two prehistoric farming settlements dating back as early as 6000 B.C. in the Ptolemaida region.
The settlement digs uncovered burial sites, clay and stone figurines of humans and animals, pottery and stone tools.
Another 25 prehistoric settlements have been found in the area.