Photo: LDA Halle, Klaus Bentele

Excavators near Leipzig have discovered what appear to be the remnants of an ancient purse encrusted with over 100 dog teeth. This unusual decorative item has been dated to 2,500-2,300 BC.

The ‘purse’ was found in a grave during a rescue excavation of an open-pit coal mine in Germany. Although the fabric has long since disintegrated, the uniform lines of dog teeth resemble the outside flap of a modern handbag. Dog teeth are a relatively common find in this area, and were often used for ornamental jewellery; but the use of canine teeth for decoration on the exterior of what looks like a purse is most unusual. Is this an archaic prototype of the classic ‘houndstooth’ design?

Perhaps our ancestors were more stylish than we give them credit for…

RC