This Stone Age human jawbone contains a tooth with the
oldest filling ever found
We’re lucky to live in a modern age, an age when, instead of ripping out a painful cavity-ridden tooth, we can have dentists drill away the rotten bit and plug up the hole with a filling. But a new discovery reveals that fillings aren’t just modern conveniences: they date back to the Stone Age. Researchers have discovered that a tooth on a 6500-year-old human jawbone has a large cavity covered by a beeswax cap—making that wax the oldest dental filling ever discovered.
Archaeologists working near Leipzig, Germany, have unearthed a surprisingly arrangement of more than 100 dog’s teeth in a grave between 4,200 and 4,500 years old. The way the teeth are arrayed suggests that they might have been sewn as decoration onto a piece of leather or textile which has since decayed, prompting the team who found it to call in the remnants of a purse. Taking a closer look has revealed that the teeth come from dozens of different dogs.
The team has already found hundreds of graves at the site, as well as artifacts like an amber necklace, bone buttons, stone tools, and, in one later grave, a pound of gold jewelry. Unfortunately, they have just a few years left to learn what they can from the place: it’s due to become a coal mine in 2015.
Photograph courtesy Klaus Bentele, LDA Halle