London: Archaeologists have unearthed from a woman`s grave in the Middle East the world`s oldest metal object ever discovered.
A cone-shaped copper awl was discovered in Tel Tsaf, an archaeological site in the Jordan valley of Israel.
"The appearance of the item in a woman`s grave testifies to both the importance of the awl and the importance of the woman. It is possible that we are seeing here the first indications of social hierarchy and complexity," explained Danny Rosenberg, an archaeologist at University of Haifa in Israel.
The copper awl that dates between 5100 BC-4600 B.C. is 1.6 inches long and 0.2 inches wide.
According to researchers, it means that metals were exchanged across hundreds of miles in this region more than 6,000 years ago, centuries earlier than previously thought.
Findings reveal that at the time of death, the woman was in her 40s. Several large stones covered her grave which was dug inside a silo.
Before this, the earliest pieces of evidence for metal use in the ancient Near East were found in the southern Levant.
The southern Levant roughly encompasses Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and the southern part of Lebanon.
The discovery was detailed in a paper that appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.