When teeth were drilled with stones and filled with tar: this was dentistry 13,000 years ago
Living in the 21st century and not in prehistory, has many advantages. And i say it no black legends, nor preconceived ideas: it is quite possible that the historiographic consensus says that the Neolithic was not so bad, that there was less work, that inequality barely existed. OK, I trust. But all those arguments go down the drain as soon as you step into a dentist’s waiting room.
Because yes, visiting the dentist today can be the subject of recurring nightmares, but doing it 13,000 years ago was, by all we know, much worse. From that time it is the first filling that we have evidence of.
The traditional version encrypts the origin of dentistry around 300 BC, when the Egyptians had perforations in the teeth to inlaid precious stones. However, it is older and not only because the Phoenicians and Etruscans made dental prostheses based on gold and ivory.
In the late 1990s, at Riparo Fredian, a site in the mountainous area of Tuscany, a team of archaeologists found a set of teeth from about six people who lived about 13,000 years ago, in the middle of the Neolithic.
Among all of them, two incisors have proved especially valuable in examining the medical and dental practices of the time. As published a few years ago by the journal Physical Anthropology, teeth showed signs of having been manipulated with a pointed instrument (probably a stone) with the intention of removing the decay and enlarging the hole.
Subsequently, the gaps had been filled with bits of bitumen, a natural variety of tar that we know was used at the time to waterproof baskets or utensils. That is, the teeth appeared to have undergone a Neolithic equivalent to a modern filling by removing cavities and filling them with an artificial compound.
Often when we look at how medicine has evolved, it is inevitable to be surprised at how advanced some techniques and knowledge were. It is enough to remind those Asturian Neanderthals that (many years before this primitive dentist) already they chewed poplar bark, a natural source of salicylic acid (the sedative principle of aspirin) Y Penicillium, a fungus with antibiotic properties
Imagen | Kevin bation