An 8,000-year-old pearl, which the archaeologist says is the oldest in the world, will be displayed in Abu Dhabi, according to authorities who said on Sunday it was proof that objects have been traded since neolithic times.
The natural pearl was found on the floor of a room discovered during excavations on the island of Marawah, in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which revealed the oldest architecture found in the country.
"The layers from which the pearl came from were dated 5800-5600 BC during the Neolithic period," said the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.
"The discovery of the world's oldest pearl in Abu Dhabi makes it clear that much of our recent economic and cultural history has deep roots dating back to the beginning of prehistory," said its president Mohamed Al-Muabarak.
The excavation of the Marawah site, which is made up of numerous collapsed Neolithic stone structures, also produced pottery, shell and stone beads, and flint arrowheads.
The "Abu Dhabi Pearl" will be exhibited for the first time at the "10,000 Years of Luxury" exhibition, which will open October 30 at the Louvre Abu Dhabi – the outpost of the famous Paris museum.
Experts in the Emirates believe the pearls were exchanged with Mesopotamia – former Iraq – in exchange for ceramics and other products. They were also probably used as jewelry.
"Venetian jewelry trader Gasparo Balbi, who traveled the region, mentions the islands off the coast of Abu Dhabi as a source of pearls in the 16th century," the culture department said.
The pearl industry has already supported the UAE economy, but trade collapsed in the 1930s with the advent of Japanese cultured pearls and conflicts shook global economies.
Instead, Gulf nations have turned to the oil industry, which dominates their economies to this day.