Topic: Archaeological find: elk tooth ornaments discovered in Karelian island burials  (Read 5244 times)


« on: January 15, 2021, 12:56:02 AM »
Roughly 8,200 years ago, the island of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov in Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia, housed a large burial ground where men, women and children of varying ages were buried. Many of the graves contain an abundance of objects and red ochre, signifying the wish to ensure the comfort of the buried also after death. Pendants made of elk incisors were apparently attached to clothing and accessories, such as dresses, coats, cloaks, headdresses and belts. Although no clothing material has been preserved, the location of the elk teeth sheds light on the possible type of these outfits.

A people of grooved elk tooth pendants

A study headed by archaeologist Kristiina Mannermaa, University of Helsinki, aimed to determine who the people buried in outfits decorated with elk tooth ornaments were, and what the pendants meant to them. The study analyzed the manufacturing technique of a total of more than 4,000 tooth ornaments, or the way in which the teeth had been processed for attachment or suspension. The results were surprising, as practically all of the teeth had been processed identically by making one or more small grooves at the tip of the root, which made tying the pendants easier. Only in two instances had a small hole been made in the tooth for threading, both of which were found in the grave of the same woman. The tooth pendants found in graves located in the Baltic area and Scandinavia from the same period as the Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov graves are almost exclusively perforated. Perforation is the surest way of fastening the pendant, but making holes in the narrow tip of a tooth is more laborious than grooving.

Link to study:


« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2021, 04:38:34 AM »
Nice find. Thank you for sharing.
Don’t get many such news items here on Pacific coast.


« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2021, 07:11:15 AM »
Somehow I got a feeling that the low, high or non-existence of elk/moose incisors found in the graves wasn’t due socio-economic status.... I would (if I was a gambler) wager that the people with more teeth, were the tribe’s hunters. And they used the teeth as buttons.. decorative, but utilitarian. Hence finding family groups’ graves, would have same technique grooving amongst the family.

The graves with no incisors, would be gatherers, farmers, fishers. Likely used wood buttons/toggles on their garments.

But then, I’m not a researcher either.  ;D


« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2021, 08:51:15 AM »

Link to study:

I like how the dress's fringe is also decorated with bones. Makes we wish all the more for a UrW recipe [optional] tag to allow possible changes in output like quality or price. A Leather dress with 32 bird bone pieces for instance.


« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2021, 07:58:30 PM »