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Sharks and King David

7 July 2021

This story has popped up across the internet – but see for example https://phys.org/news/2021-07-city-david-sharks-teeth-mystery.html … a mystery discovered in the city of David – Jerusalem. A cache of fossilised sharks teeth have been found in early Iron Age strata at Jerusalem. The blurbs, or news release, calls it the city of David – but that depends on which archaeologist you favour. The same team, it would seem, have come across hoards of sharks teeth elsewhere – well, at least, at two different archaeological digs. They are said to be 'a mystery' – and perhaps they are, although unexplained might be more apt. They were actually found in infill below a large Iron Age house – together with fish bones and various other oddities. These are said to be food waste, thrown away and ending up in the fill. Were they? Pottery was also found in the infill – and hundreds of bullae [seals]. The archaeologists, being practical minded, at first thought the sharks teeth were also food waste – but they must have wondered why shark was on the menu in a city far away from the coast. It was pointed out to them that some of the teeth belonged to sharks that became extinct at the end of the dinosaur age. Further investigations showed all the shark teeth were fossils. They had been dug up from somewhere – for reasons unknown. Shark teeth are of course decorative, we might suppose, or something that would appeal to a collector of the unusual. The author of the piece then adds something more concrete. Sharks teeth fossils are found in the Negev – and they could have ended up in southern Levant cities and towns as a result of trade.

For more information see https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2020.570032

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