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Home » Discovery of 11,000-year-old piercings in Turkey suggests body modification rituals in early Neolithic period

Discovery of 11,000-year-old piercings in Turkey suggests body modification rituals in early Neolithic period

In a groundbreaking at the Boncuklu Tarla site in southeastern Türkiye, archaeologists have unearthed a treasure trove of human history dating back an astonishing 11,000 years. The discovery? Evidence of perforation, shedding new light on the rituals and practices of early sedentary communities.

The findings, meticulously analyzed by a team from Ankara University, unveil a fascinating glimpse into the lives of peoples. Skeletons dating back to approximately 11,000 BC were found adorned with over 100 ornaments, meticulously buried alongside the remains of adults. The significance? These ornaments, predominantly made from limestone, , chlorite, , or river pebbles, were strategically placed next to the ears and chins of the deceased.

What sets this discovery apart is not just the presence of ornaments but the revelation that these adornments were intricately linked to body piercings. Skeletal analysis revealed wear patterns on the lower incisors consistent with labret wear, suggesting a cultural practice deeply rooted in social significance.

Perhaps most intriguing is the revelation that only adults bore these ornaments, pointing to a ritual associated with the transition to maturity. This coming-of-age rite, marked by body piercings, challenges existing narratives about the origins of such practices in South-west Asia.

Dr. Emma Louise Baysal, Associate Professor of at Ankara University and a leading expert on Neolithic personal ornamentation, underscores the of these findings. The discovery of labrets and ear ornaments at Boncuklu Tarla provides unparalleled contextual evidence for early engagement with body perforation practices, challenging previous assumptions about their timeline and distribution.

The significance of these discoveries extends beyond mere ornamentation; they offer a window into the symbolic world of . Dr. Baysal notes the complexity of ornamentation practices, which extended beyond mere aesthetics to encompass a highly developed symbolic language expressed through the .

As excavations continue at Boncuklu Tarla, researchers eagerly anticipate further insights into the choices of raw materials and the intricate connections between ornamentation practices and broader cultural traditions. This unparalleled discovery not only enriches our understanding of ancient civilizations but also invites a re-evaluation of existing Neolithic data in South-west Asia.

The findings were published in the journal Antiquity.