May 27, 2022


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The City of David and the sharks’ teeth mystery

Impression: Fossilised Squalicorax tooth Nr. #07815 from the Jerusalem internet site.
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Credit history: Omri Lernau

Experts have found an unexplained cache of fossilised shark teeth in an region exactly where there ought to be none – in a 2900 yr old site in the City of David in Jerusalem. This is at minimum 80 km from where these fossils would be predicted to be found. There is no conclusive proof of why the cache was assembled, but it may possibly be that the 80 million-12 months-previous enamel have been component of a assortment, relationship from just following the death of King Solomon*. The exact group has now unearthed similar unexplained finds in other areas of ancient Judea.

Presenting the do the job at the Goldschmidt Convention, guide researcher, Dr. Thomas Tuetken (University of Mainz, Institute of Geosciences) mentioned:&#13

“These fossils are not in their primary setting, so they have been moved. They ended up almost certainly important to anyone we just never know why, or why equivalent objects have been identified in additional than 1 put in Israel”.

The tooth have been found buried in materials made use of to fill in a basement just before conversion to a huge Iron-Age property. The property by itself was located in the Metropolis of David, one of the oldest components of Jerusalem, located presently in the mainly Palestinian village of Silwan. They had been located jointly with fish bones thrown absent as food squander 2900 years back, and other infill substance these kinds of as pottery. Intriguingly, they ended up uncovered with each other with hundreds of bullae – merchandise made use of to seal private letters and offers – implying a probable link with the administrative or governing course at some stage. Typically archaeological materials is dated according to the instances the place it is observed, and so at 1st it was assumed that the tooth have been modern with the rest of the discover. Dr. Tuetken stated:

“We had at very first assumed that the shark teeth were stays of the food items dumped almost 3000 many years ago, but when we submitted a paper for publication, one particular of the reviewers pointed out that the a person of the enamel could only have occur from a Late Cretaceous shark that experienced been extinct for at minimum 66 million many years. That sent us back to the samples, where measuring natural make a difference, elemental composition, and the crystallinity of the enamel verified that in truth all shark tooth had been fossils. Their strontium isotope composition indicates an age of about 80 million years. This confirmed that all 29 shark enamel observed in the Town of David were Late Cretaceous fossils – present-day with dinosaurs. Far more than that, they ended up not simply weathered out of the bedrock beneath the web site, but ended up likely transported from afar, potentially from the Negev, at minimum 80 km absent, the place identical fossils are uncovered”.&#13

Since the 1st finds, the crew have located other shark teeth fossils elsewhere in Israel, at the Maresha and Miqne websites. These enamel are also probable to have been unearthed and moved from their unique internet sites.&#13

Dr. Tuetken stated:

“Our operating speculation is that the tooth have been introduced jointly by collectors, but we really don’t have anything to validate that. There are no wear marks which might exhibit that they were used as equipment, and no drill holes to indicate that they may possibly have been jewelry. We know that there is a marketplace for shark’s teeth even nowadays, so it may possibly be that there was an Iron Age craze for amassing these types of products. This was a interval of riches in the Judean Court. Even so, it is far too easy to place 2 and 2 with each other to make 5. We are going to almost certainly never actually be certain”.

The shark enamel which have been identified come from quite a few species, together with from the extinct Late Cretaceous group Squalicorax. Squalicorax, which grew to among 2 and 5 metres extensive, lived only during the Late Cretaceous time period (which was the exact same time period as the late dinosaurs), so acts as a reference place in dating these fossils.

Commenting, Dr. Brooke Crowley (University of Cincinnati) said:

“This research by Dr. Tuetken and colleagues is an superb illustration of why it is so essential to strategy a investigate query with as number of assumptions as achievable, and how from time to time we have to revisit our initial assumptions. It also highlights how effective it can be to apply several applications to answer a exploration concern. In this case, the authors employed each strontium and oxygen isotopes, as properly as x-ray diffraction and trace element assessment to set up most probable age and origin of the fossil enamel. It was a monumental of work but these initiatives have disclosed a much additional fascinating tale about the people who lived in this region in the previous. I am quite psyched by this get the job done and hope that one working day, we may be equipped to unravel the secret of why these fossil tooth are remaining recovered from cultural deposits”.


Dr. Crowley was not concerned in this work. The get the job done relating to the Jerusalem finds has been released in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 8:570032 (, Dr. Crowley edited this paper for the journal. This press launch consists of extra product not pointed out in the publication.


This get the job done is presented on 6th July, but is being produced to the press early.

*The discover dates from the time of the speedy descendants of King Solomon Rehoboam, Abija, Assa, and Jehoshapat.

The Goldschmidt Conference is the World’s most important geochemistry meeting. It is hosted alternately by the European Affiliation of Geochemistry (Europe) and the Geochemical Society (United states). The 2021 conference (digital) usually takes area from 4-9 July, https://2021.goldschmidt.information/. The 2022 meeting can take spot in Hawaii.&#13

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