The World's Oldest Purse Unearthed in Germany

The World's Oldest Purse Unearthed in Germany

Source: National Geographic

In the heart of Germany, near Leipzig, an archaeological excavation has unveiled a breathtaking relic from the annals of prehistory—a discovery that hints at the sophisticated sense of style of our ancient ancestors. Dated between 2,500 and 2,200 B.C., the excavation site revealed a grave adorned with a striking array: over a hundred dog teeth meticulously arranged, suggesting the existence of an ancient purse.

Archaeologist Susanne Friederich, from the Sachsen-Anhalt State Archaeology and Preservation Office, sheds light on this remarkable find, proposing that these dog teeth likely embellished the outer flap of a handbag. "Over time, the leather or fabric has vanished, leaving behind only the teeth, all pointing in the same direction, resembling a modern handbag flap," explains Friederich. 

The excavation site, sprawling across 250 acres near Profen, holds a treasure trove of history against the backdrop of an imminent open-pit coal mine. Among the artifacts lie over 300 graves, alongside an assortment of stone tools, spear points, ceramic vessels, bone buttons, and even an amber necklace. Yet, amidst this rich tapestry of ancient relics, the discovery of the purse stands out as a remarkable testament to the artistry of our ancestors.


World's Oldest Purse Found—Studded With a Hundred Dog Teeth

National Geographic


"Fierce Fashion" defines the era, as Friederich notes that while the dog-tooth handbag might seem rare, canine teeth were surprisingly common in Northern and Central European burials of the Stone Age. These teeth, once integral to the adornment of the purse, symbolize a complex relationship between humans and dogs, where the latter were not merely companions but also valued as essential elements of daily life.

Harald Staueble, senior archaeologist at Germany's Saxon State Archaeology Office, elaborates on the prevailing trend, highlighting that dog teeth, along with wolf teeth and mussel shells, adorned not only handbags but also hair ornaments and necklaces, reflecting the sophisticated tastes of ancient civilizations.

Amidst the myriad of artifacts unearthed, the purse emerges as a symbol of distinction, reserved for the most esteemed individuals in ancient society. It offers a captivating glimpse into the refined aesthetics and cultural customs of our forebears, where even mundane objects bore the mark of elegance and prestige.

As we marvel at this extraordinary find, we are reminded of the boundless wonders that lie beneath the earth's surface, each artifact serving as a portal to a bygone era, where the threads of human history intertwine with the timeless allure of ancient craftsmanship.

Source: National Geographic
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