New Evidence of Neolithic Dentistry

Bible and archaeology news

Italian researchers working in Slovenia recently published the earliest known example of a dental filling. Traces of a beeswax filling were discovered in a 6,500 year-old left canine crown embedded into a calcite cave wall near the village of Lonche. The study, published in the open-access, peer reviewed journal PLOS ONE, includes descriptions of a variety of analytical techniques including synchrotron radiation computed micro-tomography, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry radiocarbon dating, Infrared Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy. The researchers report that if “the filling was done when the person was still alive, the intervention was likely aimed to relieve tooth sensitivity derived from either exposed dentine and/or the pain resulting from chewing on a cracked tooth: this would provide the earliest known direct evidence of therapeutic-palliative dental filling.”

This 6,500-year-old evidence of dentistry was recently published by Federico Bernardini, Claudio Tuniz, Alfredo Coppa, Lucia Mancini, Diego Dreossi, Diane Eichert, Gianluca Turco, Matteo Biasotto, Filippo Terrasi, Nicola De Cesare, Quan Hua and Vladimir Levchenko.

Read the full report in PLOS ONE

Çatalhöyük is the world’s largest and best-preserved Neolithic site. Learn more about the site, and discover what new volcanic data teaches us about a mural often considered the world’s oldest map.

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  • Dr says

    I see a lot of abrasion here which I used to see on patients in their thirties and forties who lived in sandy soil climates. Also see bone loss, so this is an older patient likely. I used to see country patients use clove oil mixed with various things as a palliative

  • William says

    The thought of a 6000 year old dentist visit is sure to give me nightmares from now on – thanx! 😛

  • Thomas Jay says

    Open holes in teeth have been packed with food matter or chewing gum between visits for root canal therapy. It is possible this is from chewing on honey comb, and not necessarily a deliberate attempt to fill a tooth. Points can wear off cusps and expose the dentin, which being softer, often leaves a “swimming pool wash out” surrounded by the stronger enamel. Things will pack into the depression. Sometimes open teeth will pack chewing gum out the end that is in the boney socket.

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