Neolithic tooth

Neolithic tooth

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Credit: PHILIPPE PLAILLY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Neolithic tooth. One of 11 teeth to be discovered at the farming site of Mehrgarh (now in Pakistan). The 9000 to 7500 year old teeth belonged to nine adult residents and are of special anthropological importance because they are the earliest known examples of dental work. The teeth contain minute holes and subsequent smoothing by chewing proving that the work was carried out while they were still alive. It is believed that the holes were bored into the teeth with a flint-tipped bow drill to alleviate pain. Analyses under an electron microscope indicate that small scalpel-like stone blades were used to complete the work. Photographed at the University of Poitiers, France.

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