Bone spoons for prehistoric babies: Detection of human teeth marks on the Neolithic artefacts from the site Grad-Starčevo (Serbia)

Around 8000 years ago, throughout the Neolithic world a new type of artefact appeared, small spoons masterly made from cattle bone, usually interpreted as tools, due to their intensive traces of use. Contrary to those interpretations, the small dimensions of spoons and presence of intensive traces of use led us to the assumption that they were used for feeding babies. In order to test that assumption we compared 2230 marks on three spoons from the Neolithic site of Grad-Starčevo in Serbia (5800−5450 cal BC) with 3151 primary teeth marks produced experimentally. This study has shown that some of the marks on spoons were made by primary teeth, which indicate their usage in feeding babies. The production of a new type of artefact to feed babies is probably related to the appearance of a new type of weaning food, and the abundance of spoons indicates that new baby gruels became an important innovation in prehistoric baby-care.