Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

History of Earrings

Since around 3,000 B.C., earrings have been a status, cultural and religious symbol.

Earrings first made their debut in Northern Africa as early as 3,000 B.C.
Earrings first made their debut in Northern Africa as early as 3,000 B.C.

History of Earrings

Earrings first made their debut in Northern Africa as early as 3,000 B.C. to identify the wearer’s cultural status. 

The main materials used to create Egyptian pieces of jewelry were copper and gold worn by both men and women.

Earrings have been found in graves in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, ancient Assyria. The ancient Persian city of Persepolis, founded by Darius the Great around 518 B.C. shows elaborate wall carvings of men wearing hoop earrings. 

Ancient Persian city of Persepolis, founded by Darius the Great around 518 B.C. shows elaborate wall carvings of men wearing hoop earrings
Ancient Persian city of Persepolis, shows elaborate wall carvings of men wearing hoop earrings

Earrings were symbols of adornment, wealth and social standing, cultural identification, and even currency throughout history.

Earrings are mentioned in the Bible in the Song of Solomon verses 9-11 written in the 3rd or 4th century:

 “To me, my darling, you are like my mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.

“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads.”

“We will make for you ornaments of gold with beads of silver.”

In the Middle Ages, earrings, necklaces and other jewelry was similar to clothing when it came to representing rank and wealth. 

By the 14th century, laws controlling the amount of jewelry worn based on how much land was owned and the wearer's social status restricted the wearing of jewelry. 

Historically both women and men wear earrings. Today earrings are worn for many of the same reasons in the past, for status, decoration or cultural identity.  Wearing earrings is a cross-cultural beauty tradition, a timeless fashion statement that many people would feel naked without.

Did you know?

Today earrings are worn for many of the same reasons in the past, for status, decoration or cultural identity.
Earrings are a fashion statement around the world

Ötzi's the Iceman frozen mummy is the oldest example of ink Copper Age tattoos, numbering over 50, the tattoos cover Ötzi from head to toe.


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