Ancient Chewing Gum Was Found In Sweden With Visible 10,000-Year-Old Tooth Marks

enchanted_fairy - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Several decades ago, samples of ancient chewing gum with visible 10,000-year-old tooth marks were found in Sweden. A recent study has shed new light on the diet and oral health of teenagers from the Stone Age.

The gum was unearthed 30 years ago at an archaeological site called Huseby Klev, which is located on Sweden’s west coast.

It was likely chewed between 9,890 and 9,540 B.C. by teenagers and children as young as five-years-old.

The pieces of gum were made out of birch bark pitch, a tar-like black resin. By analyzing the teeth marks and saliva left on the gum, researchers discovered that the pieces contained traces of wolf, Arctic fox, turtle dove, trout, deer, duck, and an aquatic snail known as a limpet. Evidence of crabapples and hazelnuts were also detected.

It is believed that the resin was chewed to be used as a glue for assembling weapons. It is also possible that people may have chewed it just because they liked it or they thought it might have served a medicinal purpose.

According to Emrah Kirdök, an assistant professor at Mersin University in Turkey and the lead author of the study, the pitch pieces could have been turned into glue to patch a hole in a boat or make an ax out of flint and wood. Aside from the sooty appearance, the substance would have looked similar to today’s gum.

From the DNA in the gum, the research team also determined that there were dozens of bacteria that indicated poor oral health among the ancient Scandinavians. The gum showed that they suffered from tooth decay and gum disease.

Scientists don’t think that the birch tar contributed to their poor oral health. Instead, the practice of using teeth as tools was more to blame.

Back then, the ancient Scandinavians used their teeth to carve bones into utensils and make clothing out of animal furs.

enchanted_fairy – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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