At a prehistoric archaeological site in Turkey, researchers have discovered two 8,500-year-old human teeth, which had been used as pendants in a necklace or bracelet. Researchers have never documented this practice before in the prehistoric Near East, and the rarity of the find suggests that the human teeth were imbued with profound symbolic meaning for the people who wore them.

During excavations at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey researchers found three 8,500-year-old-teeth that appeared to have been intentionally drilled to be worn as beads in a necklace or bracelet. Subsequent macroscopic, microscopic and radiographic analyses confirmed that two of the teeth had indeed been used as beads or pendants, researchers conclude in a newly published article in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

"Not only had the two teeth been drilled with a conically shaped microdrill similar to those used for creating the vast amounts of beads from animal bone and stone that we have found at the site, but they also showed signs of wear corresponding to extensive use as ornaments in a necklace or bracelet," University of Copenhagen archaeologist and first author of the article Scott Haddow said.