Mesiodistally directed grooves have been observed on the occlusal surfaces of nine incisors of five females in a small skeletal population from Kovuklukaya (Sinop, northern Anatolia, 10(th) century AD). There is no archaeological evidence to explain the cultural practices that must have caused such unusual abrasions of the anterior dentition. Investigations of the geographical characteristics of the region and data gathered on the traditional lifestyles of Culhall inhabitants enables us to reach meaningful conclusions about the Kovuklukaya people. According to the direction of the grooves, ecological characteristics of the region, and ethnographic data, it is proposed that the unusual abrasion observed in the Kovuklukaya population may be linked to passing yarn between the anterior teeth to wet it. The grooves in the kovuklukaya population were found only in female skeletons, indicating the existence of a sex-based division of labour in yarn production. Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.