Teeth “spare hand” of Burnt City people

January 28, 2009

TEHRAN -- The latest anthropological studies on the people of Iran’s 5200-year-old Burnt City determined that they used their teeth as an extra hand.

The studies were carried out on 52 skeletons discovered by a joint Italian-Iranian archaeological team at the cemetery of the city during the 12th season of excavation that concluded last week.
“Using teeth to assist in creating artwork was very common among the people of the Burnt City,” anthropologist of the team Farzad Foruzanfar told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.
The people used their teeth in weaving wicker, nets and textiles, and in creating artwork with ornamental stones, he said, adding, “Teeth were the extra hand of people in these professions.”
Some evidence supporting this claim was found during the previous seasons of excavation in the Burnt city.
Abrasions caused by pulling fibers of the palmetto plant by teeth and seen in both genders, further support the conclusions.
Various shapes of abrasions in teeth are visible including surface, bias, grooves, holes, and as a result of friction. Consequently, anthropologists believe that people used their teeth in many ordinary jobs.
“People pulled fibers with their teeth and also moisturized them with saliva for weaving wickerworks, which have previously been discovered in the Burnt City,” Foruzanfar said.
The 12th season of excavation that began in late December 2008 was led by Iranian archaeologist Mansur Sajjadi.
The Burnt City is located 57 kilometers from the city of Zabol in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan Province.