Gaining wide popularity in the hip-hop and rap industry, gold grillz have actually been a tradition of our ancient ancestors. These mouth adornments have been popping up and disappearing from history for as long as humans have existed. Let's dive into the history of the gold grill.
Many articles online are contributing the first discovery of gold grillz to the Ancient Egyptians. These conclusions are based on surface facts and not the whole picture. Archaeologists found two teeth that were woven together by a gold wire that dated back to 2,500 BC.
It was later discovered that the wire was used as a necklace for the Giza resident to carry their teeth that had fallen out. There was no real attempt to adorn the teeth with a grill, rather, it was a necessity for keeping track of lost parts of the body.
The Real Beginning
In late 1999, Archaeologists found documentation of close to twenty different sets of teeth that were woven with gold wire. The gold wire was very delicate and the thickness of a rubber band. These documents were of the Etruscans people.
The Etruscans roamed Italy between 800 and 200 BC. Many of the Etruscan writings have not survived. The only real knowledge from this time was from exhuming the graves of the Ancient people. These were dug up back in the 1800s and documented at the time. The gold grillz have become lost in transportation from country to country for viewing by archeologists, however, the documentation of what they found has still survived.
Although gold was not their stone of choice, the Mayans preferred jade, they still appeased the idea of mouth adornment. The ancient kings and queens would actually have holes drilled in their teeth and then have them filled with jade stones. This was similar to the practice of the gold grill as it was seen as a status symbol of money and power during the Mayan Age.
The Vikings had a habit of using gold to adorn their teeth. To them, it was seen as a way to identify their group. It is thought the Vikings picked up this practice from somewhere along their travels. Archaeologists aren't exactly sure where that is yet.
Fast forward to the 1970s and you would find a number of grillz all over New York City neighborhoods. The people from the West Indies and Jamaica started moving in numbers to the big city for a better chance at life. What they brought along with them were gold teeth. These teeth were used as false teeth for those who didn't have good oral care. Many residents in the city liked the look and decided to get their own gold teeth adornments in the way of grillz.
Grillz have popped back up again in the 21st century, becoming a fashion statement. Grillz are no longer secluded to the lavishly rich society, they are becoming common items everyone can order.