Conference paper Open Access

Bone spoons for prehistoric babies: detection of primary teeth marks on the neolithic artefacts

Stefanović, Sofija; Petrović, Bojan; Porčić, Marko; Pendić, Jugoslav; Penezić, Kristina

Around 8000 years ago, throughout the Neolithic world a new type of artefact appeared, small spoons masterly made from cattle bone, usually interpreted as tools, due to their intensive traces of use. Contrary to those interpretations, the small dimensions of spoons and presence of intensive traces of use led us to the assumption that they were used for feeding babies. In order to test this assumption, we compared 2230 marks on spoons from the Neolithic site of Grad-Starčevo in Serbia (5800−5450 cal BC) with 3151 primary teeth marks produced experimentally on fresh cattle bone. This study has shown that marks on spoons were made by primary teeth, which proves their usage in feeding babies. Our interpretation of the bone spoons’ function, jointly with their wide distribution, could suggest that new kinds of gruel were also an important part of the ‘Neolithic package’. The novelties in baby-feeding practices, indicated by spoons, could have had an important effect on the evolution of human fertility through shortening the length of the breastfeeding period.

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