A mysterious collection of prehistoric shark teeth were discovered in Jerusalem’s City of David. This discovery is particularly odd as the 80-million-year-old teeth were located at a 2,900-year-old site in the ancient city which is approximately 80 kilometers away from where shark teeth would normally be found.
The 29 teeth were buried in material that was used to fill in a basement of an old house at a site called “Rock Cut Pool”. In addition to the teeth, 2,900-year-old fish bones, pottery, and hundreds of bullae (this was used to seal up private letters and packages) were found there as well. Since the items were all found together, experts first thought that the teeth were part of the food waste but further analysis revealed that they were from sharks that lived around 80 million years ago.
The teeth belonged to several different shark species that included the Squalicorax group that lived during the Late Cretaceous Period and grew as long as 2 to 5 meters (between 6.6 and 16.4 feet). A picture of one of the shark teeth can be seen here.
Since the cache was discovered such a long distance away from where shark teeth would be located, experts think that they were part of an ancient collection. Interestingly, other mysterious collections have also been found in additional areas of ancient Judea such as Israel’s Maresha and Miqne sites. Dr. Thomas Tuetken, who is from the University of Mainz, Institute of Geosciences, stated at the Goldschmidt Conference, “These fossils are not in their original setting, so they have been moved. They were probably valuable to someone; we just don’t know why, or why similar items have been found in more than one place in Israel.”
“Our working hypothesis is that the teeth were brought together by collectors, but we don’t have anything to confirm that. There are no wear marks which might show that they were used as tools, and no drill holes to indicate that they may have been jewelry. We know that there is a market for shark’s teeth even today, so it may be that there was an Iron Age trend for collecting such items. This was a period of riches in the Judean Court. However, it’s too easy to put 2 and 2 together to make 5. We’ll probably never really be sure,” Dr. Tuetken said.
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution where it can be read in full.