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Neolithic dentistry research

Neolithic dentistry research

E439/0109

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Credit

PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Neolithic dentistry research. Palaeoanthropologist Robert Macchiarelli, studies a Neolithic tooth under a magnifying glass. The tooth is one of 11 9000 to 7500 year old teeth discovered at the farming site of Mehrgarh, Pakistan. They belonged to nine adults 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. Macchiarelli believes 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.

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