The oldest piercing in the world was found – it changed the manner of speech

Back in 1913, a human skull about 12,000 years old was found in Africa. His teeth were badly worn, and scientists initially thought it was due to chewing hard plants. But then there was an assumption that the ancient man had a piercing in his mouth – a decoration that is inserted into the body by piercing the skin. There was no convincing evidence for this, but scientists began to assume that people began wearing piercings in the Stone Age. Recently, in Turkey, archaeologists managed to find irrefutable evidence of this. Next to the heads of ancient people, they discovered small jewelry that was precisely inserted into the skin. This was done for a reason, but as a ritual.

The oldest piercing in the world has been found - it changed the way they speak. Ancient people wore piercings, but they were made of stones. Photo.

Ancient people wore piercings, but they were made of stones

The oldest piercing in the world

Jewelry made of stone and volcanic glass, which were used by ancient people as piercings, were found at the Stone Age site of Boncuklu Tarla. This place is located 450 kilometers from Mount Ararat, the highest peak in Turkey.

In total, scientists managed to find 106 jewelry. Many of them are poorly preserved to this day, but 85 copies turned out to be intact enough for research. They were mainly made from limestone, river pebbles or obsidian. The diameter of the part of the jewelry that was inserted into the skin was at least 7 millimeters. This means that people had to make quite large holes in the skin to install the piercing.

The most ancient piercing in the world. Stone piercing of ancient people. Photo.

Stone piercing of ancient people

Scientists have no particular doubt that these jewelry were intended specifically for piercing. The fact is that they were all found near the skulls of ancient people. They were able to identify seven types of jewelry, each of which was inserted into different parts of the body. For example, some stones were clearly inserted into the ears, others into the lips, and so on. Scientists also believe that ancient people even decorated their chin, neck and chest.

We knew that in the Neolithic era (New Stone Age) there were artifacts similar to earrings, they have been found in many places. But we have not yet found anything that would prove that they are worn on the body,” explained one of the study authors, Emma Baysal.

Why piercing was invented

The teeth of ancient people were noticeably worn in some areas. According to the authors of the scientific work, such wear and tear could not have occurred while eating solid food. Most likely, the teeth were worn down as a result of constant friction against the piercing on the lower lip.

Why piercing was invented. Ways of wearing piercings by ancient people. Photo.

Ways of ancient people wearing piercings

The researchers noticed that piercings were found only in the graves of adults. That is, these decorations were not intended for children. Based on this, they suggested that body decoration was part of a ritual for a person’s transition from childhood to adulthood. It is possible that piercings changed the way people spoke – this could be a deliberate decision.

Why piercings were invented. Piercings have been found in or near the ear canals or lower jaws of skeletons. Photo.

Piercings have been found in or near the ear canals or lower jaws of skeletons

According to Emma Baysal, the ancient inhabitants of Boncuklu-Tarli certainly knew how to make elaborate jewelry for their bodies. For example, they were able to make beads, bracelets and pendants from various materials. In essence, jewelry was used as a means of self-expression – it showed that a person was already an adult. Today, piercing is also used in a similar scenario.

Read also:How will tattoos look in old age?

Life of Stone Age people

So, thanks to the new find, scientists have learned another interesting detail about the ancient people of the Stone Age. In 2024, researchers made another interesting discovery – it turned out that our ancestors were using chewing gum 10,000 years ago. It was not a tasty gum, but just a viscous substance made from tree bark. While studying the find, scientists found out that ancient people had serious problems with their teeth and gums. The researchers were also able to determine what they ate. You can learn more about all this in our article “10,000-Year-Old Chewing Gum Reveals a Lot About Stone Age People.”

The life of Stone Age people. Every year scientists learn more and more about Stone Age people. Photo.

Every year scientists learn more and more about the people of the Stone Age

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Piercing is very popular even today. Based on everything written above, it turns out that this method of decorating the body has existed for tens of thousands of years. Many people find piercings beautiful, but in some cases they can cause health problems. For example, some men and women are allergic to the materials used, and sometimes piercings can cause infections. You can read about this in our material “How earrings and other piercings affect human health.”