Publication Details

Szabo, K., Koppel, B., Moore, M. W., Young, I., Tighe, M. & Morwood, M. J. (2015). The Brremangurey pearl: a 2000 year old archaeological find from the coastal Kimberley, Western Australia. Australian Archaeology, 80 (June), 112-115.

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Australian Archaeology


A small marine pearl was recovered at the Brremangurey rockshelter, on the Kimberley coast, from layers dating to approximately 2000 years ago. In an area famous for its pearls and history of cultured pearl production, public interest centred on whether the pearl was as old as the layer in which it was contained, or whether it was a recent cultured pearl that had infiltrated down from above. The near-spherical shape of the pearl hinted at a possible cultured origin. Owing to the uniqueness and historic cultural significance of this find, non-invasive analytical techniques were used to investigate whether the Brremangurey pearl was cultured or natural. Midden analysis was further used to assess the likely origin of the pearl within the stratified deposits. Analysis confirmed that the pearl is of natural origin and a dense midden lens of Pinctada albina shells is its likely origin.

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