Thousands of human teeth have been discovered under the surface of Melbourne’s CBD during a major archaeological dig.
More than half a million artefacts have already been dug up as part of the $11 billion Metro Tunnel Project, but this is the most bizarre discovery so far.
The digs are taking place across two historically significant Melbourne locations, near the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets and the corner of La Trobe and Swanston streets, ahead of construction ramping up on the new underground Town Hall and State Library stations.
It’s believed the human teeth were likely left behind by a dentist and surgeon who used to work at the same location on Swanston street, directly next to the Young and Jackson pub.
Many of the teeth showed obvious sign of decay, often with root exposure. Experts said this means the patients would have suffered excruciating pain prior to having their teeth removed.
Most of the teeth were from adults, some with visible stain marks on them from possibly tobacco or betel nut.
An orthodontist said the dentist was likely just removing teeth rather than repairing them at this practice.
The teeth were found throughout the property and from within an iron plumbing pipe, meaning they were probably flushed down a drain or thrown out with the rubbish or into the yard.
The dentist who owned the shop, JJ Forester, opened the office in 1898.
Meanwhile, several gaming and gambling items from the 1720s to 1820s were found underground at the property next door.
At least 20 dice were recovered from 13 Swanston Street, a piece of land that was formerly occupied by a hotel.
The dice were predominantly from cattle bone or ivory.
Earrings, likely from 1860 to 1890, were also discovered during the dig. Experts revealed they were likely dropped by a “well-to-do” lady passing through the hotel and may have been a gift from an overseas loved one.
The earrings likely dropped through the floorboard, only to be discovered 150 years later.
Viewing windows at both dig locations have been set up to allow the public to watch the process.
A second window peering into the southern CBD site was recently installed on Swanston Street, while another vantage point has also been created in Scott Alley, off Flinders Lane.
Archaeologists expect to uncover more than one million artefacts as they continue to filter their way through various layers of underground fill, each containing remnants of different eras of Melbourne’s history.
The public will soon be able to view the items, with a collection of artefacts going on display at the project’s dedicated visitor centre in September.