Beads, whether sewn on apparel or worn on strings, have symbolic meanings that are far removed from the simplistic empiricism of the Western anthropologist. The practice of wearing such objects as beads and pendants obviously requires a comprehension of the self, of the existence of the individual. Individuality is a central factor in all ‘decoration’, necessarily, and that applies also to the pretense of perfection: there seems to be no reason to wish to project the concept of perfection in the absence of a concept of the self. Self-consciousness with all its implications is an important factor in cognitive evolution, and can be assumed to have been available to select for, probably well before the advent of beads.
Robert Bednarik, Pendants from the late Lower or early Middle Palaeolithic.