Recent excavations in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia, have uncovered a treasure trove of artifacts. Along with everyday items, 1,000 human teeth were also discovered on site.
According to The Age, one of the two sites currently being excavated to make way for new subway train stations in central Melbourne has unearthed the gruesome find.
However, the find might not be as suspect as you would like to think.
On a site next to Melbourne’s iconic Young & Jackson’s hotel on Swanston Street, archaeologists uncovered 1,000 teeth that are believed to have belonged to patients at dentist’s offices that were previously located there.
The site was home to several dental clinics. However, in those days, many people used a dentist as a last resort, rather than as a preventative measure. So, of the 1,000 teeth found, many of them bear the marks of massive cavities. Many of these teeth were also found in pipes, indicating they were likely flushed rather than buried onsite.
According to The Age, the most prominent dentist on this site was JJ Forster, “who practiced at 11 Swanston Street from 1898 to the 1930s.” It is also reported that this dentist was extremely wealthy, and in 1909, “a 16-year-old boy threatened to bomb and shoot Forster unless he handed over 50 pounds.”
In addition to the large number of teeth found on the site, many other items from the day to day living of local Melbournians were also found. A jet earring which was modeled on Queen Victoria’s mourning wear was found, along with “a child’s crude slingshot and a bone-handled fork.” Opium smoking devices were also found on the site, many being made from glass beer bottles.
Over the course of six months, the site has gradually revealed the layers of history buried for so long. Excavation director Megan Goulding said she could feel the history ”hovering” around them as building footings dating from the 1830s eventually emerged.
“It’s quite evocative,'” Goulding explained. ‘” Every aspect of our European past is here on the site and you can still see it.”
In addition to this location, another excavation site on the corner of Swanston and La Trobe streets will make way for the State Library subway station. Many artifacts have also been found at this site. In fact, between the two sites, nearly half a million artifacts have been unearthed.
Those who are eager to see the remains of early Melbourne living can do so by attending the visitor center at Melbourne Town Hall from September 24, where the preserved finds will be on display to the general public.