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Beads Everywhere

Scholars Discover Ancient Jewelry

Have you ever wondered how people came to start making jewelry in the first place? Researchers from the University of Kansas are coming up with a valid theory to answer that question. After looking at a collection of eight eagle talons from a rock-shelter site that once belonged to Krapina Neanderthals, they realized that four of the talons had cut marks, three had small notches in roughly the same place, and all eight showed abrasions not naturally occurring in eagles. The pieces dated from 120,000 to 130,000 years ago and provided yet another indication that Neanderthals did not fit the "ignorant caveman" stereotype that exists today, but may have been able to think abstractly and create art. Modern humans still carry some Neanderthal genes. "It's so unexpected and it's so startling because there's just nothing like it until very recent times to find this kind of jewelry," David Frayer of KU said.

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Women Find Hope Through Beads

Jewelry has become a way of saving lives. In Kibera, Kenya, it's not only helping HIV positive women, it's helping recycle waste. The community-based organization Mirror of Hope has united women from around Kibera to create beads out of supermarket packaging, satin poster papers, and old calendars, to name a few, and sell the pieces. The group began five years ago. One member, Elizabeth Kasim, told The Star in Nairobi that she beads and weaves every day while working as a vegetable seller. The work helped her get her children educated and to care for her brother's children when he died. One of the more difficult aspects of the work is finding contacts in the local community. "People in this community don't value, or simply don't have the money for these products," group member Janet Otieno told The Star. Mirror of Hope does sell to foreign countries, including Canada and Italy, and organization manager Thomas Nyawir says he hopes to expand to Australia and the United States.

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Crystals and Casings

Junction City (Ky.) police chief Merl Baldwin has a clever invention: jewelry from shell casings. After a conversation with his daughter and inspiration from a friend, he did some research, experimented, and came up with the method. Now he's got a business, Reload Designs. But he's not going to give away many details about how he makes his unique jewelry items. "The brand and how we recover it after it's been shot - nobody's been able to figure out how we do that," he told the Central Kentucky News. Baldwin says he puts a lot of importance on being friendly to our environment: "All of this has actually been fired. We're recycling and repurposing." The casings he uses are from various sources, including law enforcement and hunting. He says the process is "a little bit time consuming," but helps him decompress. And he's received positive feedback from the community. The pieces are sold at a local store in Junction City, but he's looking to sell through more distributors.

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