Thursday, 28 June 2012

Fashion, with teeth...

Archaeologists working near Leipzig in Germany have uncovered what appears to be the earliest example of a purse - and not just any purse, this may have been the Chanel handbag of the Bronze Age world.

Over a hundred dog teeth were found in a grave dating between 2500 and 2200 BC. The teeth were arranged closely together, in a series of  neat rows. Archaeologist Susanne Friederich believes that these canine teeth were the decoration for a purse made of leather or fabric which has disintegrated over time.

Dog teeth, lots of them.  Item is about 25cm across.
(Photo courtesy of Klaus Bentele, LDA Halle, via National Geographic)

Friederich who works for the Sachsen-Anhalt State Archaeology and Preservation Office has said that 'all that's left is the teeth. They're all pointing in the same direction, so it looks a lot like a modern handbag flap'.

Dog and wolf teeth are common finds in the prehistoric world, often found as pendants on necklaces or as hair decorations. It is likely that such ornamentation was rather fashionable for a time. However, to find so many teeth in one place and in such as ostentatious design is unusual. The bag would have required the teeth of dozens of dogs to make and in fact the sheer quantity of such teeth found in burial contexts in northern and central Europe in this period might suggest that dogs were kept more as 'livestock' than pets.

So, I suppose this discovery really is a case of handbags at dawn... at the dawn of time, that is!*

*Sorry. The puns are getting worse.

National Geographic,  'World's Oldest Purse Found',  Staunen pur

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