Dancing for Archeology

Experimental archaeology can do amazing things. Recently, archaeologists have shown that hunters and gatherers danced to the sound of elk teeth in the past. To substantiate their assumption, the researchers decided to conduct a scientific study. First, they examined the signs found on the Stone Age pendants, and compared them with some replicas. Then, they used these results in a specific experiments of dancing. The results suggest that people wore intricate pedants while dancing.

Dancing for Archeology
Dancing for Archeology

All around the world, people have worn or processed animal teeth as jewellery since the very early days. The accessories in question came from modern day Russian Republic of Karelia. Some necklaces with animal teeth were found in a burial ground on the island of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov in Lake Onega. It was part of the contents of the grave. There hunter-gatherer people buried the dead members of their tribe with clothes and some tooth pendants. The clothing had long since rotted away when the scientists found them, but the charms were still here. These were attached to an apron like accessories.

The Pedants Created Sound Effects

Scientists from the University of Helsinki tried to determine whether the pendants had a visual or an acoustic meaning. They assumed that these had taken over the function of rattles when dancing, so they decided to do experimental archaeology. They replicated the pendants and wore them to dances. The resulting sound effects supported the original assumption. The teeth attached to the charms made a sound similar to that of a rattle. In addition, it made a powerful sound when you moved to the rhythm. If you wear those while dancing, then sound, rhythm and movement are combined, the scientists reported when presenting their results.

Worn Before the Burial

The experts found further proof of in support of their theses in the characteristic wear and tear. After a six-hour dance, the team examined the microscopic damage on the garments and accessories. They found out that the rhythmic clacking of teeth created that and resembled those they had already seen on the ancient pendants.

Moreover, they found that people wore animal teeth pendants before they buried the dead. The deep and extensive marks in the originals suggest that people used to own the charms for a very long time.  The period should have been years or even decades.

Worn Before the Burial
Worn Before the Burial

A Gateway to the Past

This information is a fascinating find. It allows scientists to relive the past acoustically. The pedants provide a good impression of what the music sounded like thousands of years ago. People who wore those special pendants while dancing can walk in the shoes of the past hunter-gatherers. With their experiments, the researchers have found a way to give modern humans an insight into history. The elk teeth, therefore, act as a gateway into the distant past of man. The dance of the scientists opened this gate. It is hard to believe that dancing can be used for science to find new knowledge about the pre-historic times.



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