German archaeologists have unearthed what may be the remains of the world’s oldest handbag. Although the purse itself, which was likely made of leather or linen, has long succumbed to decay, an outer flap comprising more than 100 dog teeth remains perfectly preserved. The teeth—sharp canines all—were probably a form of embellishment, according to Susanne Friederich of the Sachsen-Anhalt State Archaeology and Preservation Office. “Over the years the leather or fabric disappeared, and all that’s left is the teeth,” she told National Geographic on Wednesday. “They’re all pointing in the same direction, so it looks a lot like a modern handbag flap.”
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THE ORIGINAL IT BAG
The teeth were discovered in a surface coal mine not far from Leipzig, next to the body of a woman buried at the end of the Stone Age between 2,500 and 2,200 B.C. The excavation has also uncovered evidence of Stone and Bronze Age settlements, including more than 300 graves, hundreds of stone tools, spear points, ceramic vessels, bone buttons, and an amber necklace. But even among these rare finds, the purse is revelation. “It’s the first time we can show direct evidence of a bag like this,” Friederich said.
Dog teeth were fairly common in burials of that period, mostly in the form of necklaces or hair ornaments.
As surprising as it is for us today, dog teeth were actually fairly common in burials of that period, mostly in the form of necklaces or hair ornaments. “It seems to have been very fashionable at the time,” said Harald Staueble, senior archaeologist at Germany’s Saxon State Archaeology Office. “Not everyone was buried with such nice things—just the really special graves.”
Cavepeople, they were just like us.