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Mary Leakey. Source Wikipedia. Image credit National Institutes of Health
6,500 year-old tooth with beeswax filling found in Slovenia
Kate Taylor, writing in TG Daily reports that -
Scientists say that they’ve discovered evidence of stone-age dentistry – a filling made of beeswax that dates back 6,500 years.
The jawbone containing the filled tooth was found in Slovenia, and likely belonged to a man between 24 and 30. Discovered over 100 years ago, it sat in a local museum ever since, without attracting a great deal of attention. The beeswax appears to have been applied around the time of the individual’s death, but there’s no way of telling whether it was shortly before or after. It’s possible that it was used as part of some sort of death ritual.
If it was applied before death, however, it was likely intended to reduce pain and sensitivity from a vertical crack in the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth. The severe wear of the tooth, says Claudio Tuniz of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, “is probably also due to its use in non-alimentary activities, possibly such as weaving, generally performed by Neolithic females.”
It’s not the first evidence of very early dentistry. In 2001, a graveyard in Pakistan dating as far back as 9,000 years yielded up 11 human molars showing drill holes – but no fillings. “This finding is perhaps the most ancient evidence of pre-historic dentistry in Europe and the earliest known direct example of therapeutic-palliative dental filling so far,” says co-author Federico Bernardini.
See also the article in The New Scientist here.
Researchers from Spain, the UK and Australia combined pyrolysis gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry with morphological analysis of plant microfossils to identify material trapped in dental calculus – calcified dental plaque – from five Neanderthals from the north Spanish site of El Sidrón.
The Creswell Initiative is the title of a major project which proposes to carry out the works necessary to look after, protect and tell people about the story of life at Creswell Crags. The total cost is estimated at £14 million. The project will give a major boost to the local economy, creating a new vision for the future of this ex-coalfield area.
Beyond the Ice: Creswell Crags and its Place in a Wider European Context by Matthew Beresford
Since the discovery of Britains first Ice Age cave art in 2003, the site of Creswell Crags has gained international recognition as one of Britain’s leading Palaeolithic sites. This accessible volume explores the history of research on the site and draws together and interprets the findings, paying particular attention to the cave art. Documenting the early fieldwork at the site it uncovers antiquarian discoveries such as the famous horse engraving, excavations in the 1920s that saw our understanding of our early ancestors take shape, discusses the demise of the Neanderthals and the emergence of Modern Man, and looks at how Creswell Crags grew as a heritage attraction of potential World Heritage Status. The book also challenges the term Creswellian, an isolated British culture that occupied the fringe lands of western Europe, and instead offers hard evidence for viewing Creswell Crags and its inhabitants as being part of a vast Ice Age world.
113p b/w illus (Archaeopress 2012).