Mesolithic hunter-gatherers living in northern Siberia performed great dances during which clan members shook their clothes with cool teeth and made three-dimensional rhythmic sounds that helped the whole community enter a kind of peace. According to the author of a new study, dancers removed their bodies and gritted their teeth, writing “movement, pulse and tempo”, both music and the whole group. Presented in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal, the study seeks to shed light on the purpose of some of the artefacts found in the cemetery at Eugene Oleni Ostro in northwestern Russia, where 177 ancient tombs were found.
More than half of the people who intervened at the site are with elk tooth ornaments, some of which have several hundred teeth. Most of these teeth were made in the shape of pendants and it appears to have been attached to garments worn by the dead inhabitants of the site. Yet the authors of the study were shocked to see the distinctive pattern of “pits and craters” on many of the teeth, indicating that they were somehow trivialized and distorted by harsh activity. It concluded that the “patterns were made only for the funeral and not just before the grave.”
The researchers therefore decided to recreate the ornaments, attaching cool teeth to specially designed clothing that mirrored the wearers worn by their study participants. They then conducted an experiment they called “The Stone Ages Disco”, which involved strong dancing for six hours before analyzing the type of costume and tearing off the part that was adorned on the teeth. The authors write, “Testing our active movement, a costume pattern called” Stone Ages Disco “was created that comes close to mesolithic painting or bending,” the authors write.
A secondary experiment involving gentle movement over a period of secondary 60 hours failed to reproduce this type of deformity, stating that only the teeth of the ancient clan could be seen as a result of the increase in intensive force “like a dance or dance hall”. Explaining the purpose of these noisy accessories, study author Rita Rainio commented that “wearing such rotors while dancing makes it easier to immerse yourself in the soundscapes, ultimately allowing sound and rhythm to control your movement.