A set of human-teeth pendants dating back to 6500 BC have been uncovered by archaeologists in the Neolithic proto-city of Çatalhöyük site in modern day Turkey.
Previously, evidence of human teeth used for ornamental purposes had only been found in European digs. Since human-teeth jewelry is rare in the Near East, the discovery could shed important light into the funerary rituals and customs of the region.
However, according to researcher Scott Haddow of the University of Copenhagen who led the Çatalhöyük excavation along with an international team of archaeologists says that the teeth belonged to middle aged adults and at least two of them were possibly extracted postmortem.
Two of the three teeth found had no remains of tooth damage, pointing to the fact that they were still healthy teeth when extracted from people. Researchers are currently trying to determine if the teeth come from dead people or were the teeth-bearers alive at the time of extraction.
The teeth were apparently chiseled into a conical shape using a microdrill which could also been used to drill the neat holes at the conical tip of the teeth that can carry the teeth as pendants. Researchers felt that the drill-work was probably done by trained professionals who understood the work and not just done randomly, Forbes reported.
Çatalhöyük, which was occupied between 7100 and 5500 BC. is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Excavation work first began on the site in 1960s. Since then, the site has become an important one to study Neolithic cultures and ways of life. Several domestic buildings have been found in on the site along with ornamental objects depicting or derived from animals teeth or bones. The site is also believed to have been witness to an evolved, egalitarian society.