Published December 19, 2019 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Bone spoons for prehistoric babies: Detection of human teeth marks on the Neolithic artefacts from the site Grad-Starčevo (Serbia)

  • 1. BioSense Institute, Novi Sad; Laboratory for Bioarchaeology, University of Belgrade
  • 2. BioSense Institute, Novi Sad, Dentistry Clinic of Vojvodina, Faculty of Medicine, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • 3. Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, BioSense Institute Novi Sad
  • 4. BioSense Institute, Novi Sad
  • 5. Laboratory for Bioarchaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
  • 6. BioSense Institute, Novi Sad, Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • 7. National Museum in Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia


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 that assumption we compared 2230 marks on three spoons from the
Neolithic site of Grad-Starčevo in Serbia (5800−5450 cal BC) with 3151 primary teeth marks
produced experimentally. This study has shown that some of the marks on spoons were
made by primary teeth, which indicate their usage in feeding babies. The production of a
new type of artefact to feed babies is probably related to the appearance of a new type of
weaning food, and the abundance of spoons indicates that new baby gruels became an
important innovation in prehistoric baby-care.


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BIRTH – Births, mothers and babies: prehistoric fertility in the Balkans between 10000 – 5000 BC 640557
European Commission