To most people, a cubic zirconium can pass for a diamond if it’s not too gaudy and you’re not too invested in it. And so it has always been. Scientists studying ancient jewelry found in southern Europe assumed that four beads were made of amber, the gemstone formed from naturally-hardened tree sap, but have now discovered that they are manufactured fakes. Archaeologist Carlos Odriozola tells the story.
Odriozola and colleagues unearthed amber-looking beads from two burial sites in Spain. Two beads were found in an archaeological site near Seville in southern Spain called La Molina that dates to the third millennium B.C. Four other beads came from Cova del Gegant near Barcelona and date to the second millennium B.C. The beads looked so much like the real thing that the researchers didn’t notice they were fake until a chemical analysis revealed differently.
“Indeed, these beads resemble amber so well that we got first confused when [the analysis] did not match an amber pattern,” Odriozola said. “At that moment, we got very excited about the possibility of having found an amber fake.”
Excited about a fake? Oh yeah. While real amber jewelry is rare, manufactured amber intended to pass as the real thing can tell us a lot about the culture that produced it. Read about the discovery of the counterfeit amber at Discover magazine. -via reddit
(Image credit: Odriozola et al., 2019)