Mesolithic era peoples used garments decorated with elk teeth to generate rhythmic sounds that put them into a trance-like state.
A new study in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal suggests that groups of Mesolithic era hunter-gatherer peoples in northern Siberia held massive rave-like dance events.
According to the study, the people wore elk teeth attached to their clothes, which rattled during dancing and generated rhythmic sounds that put them into a trance-like state.
The researchers conducting the study were intrigued by distinctive patterns of “pits and craters” on the elk teeth, which suggested some sort of rigorous activity took place to dent the decorative teeth. They then recreated the garments worn with the elk teeth, and—in an attempt to replicate those patterns—danced nonstop for six hours while wearing them.
“Our active movement experiment, called the ‘Stone Ageish Disco,’ produced a wear pattern that comes close to the Mesolithic pitting or pecking,” the authors of the study revealed.
“Wearing such rattlers while dancing makes it easier to immerse yourself in the soundscape, eventually letting the sound and rhythm take control of your movements,” explained the study’s author Riitta Rainio, “as if the dancer is led in the dance by someone.”
The rattling and intensive dancing served to put Stone Age dancers into a nearly dissociative, euphoric state, akin to what one would feel at a modern rave event. Those peoples gathered in massive groups to dance together, which may have even helped their communities bond.
Check out the full study at the Cambridge University Press website.