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Early Neolithic tradition of dentistry

Nature volume 440, pages 755756 (06 April 2006) | Download Citation



Prehistoric evidence for the drilling of human teeth in vivo has so far been limited to isolated cases from less than six millennia ago1,2,3. Here we describe eleven drilled molar crowns from nine adults discovered in a Neolithic graveyard in Pakistan that dates from 7,500–9,000 years ago. These findings provide evidence for a long tradition of a type of proto-dentistry in an early farming culture.

Flint tips were surprisingly effective for drilling tooth enamel in a prehistoric population.

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Author information


  1. *Dipartimento BAU, Università ‘La Sapienza’, 00185 Rome, Italy

    • A. Coppa
  2. †Sezione di Antropologia, Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico ‘L. Pigorini’, 00144 Rome, Italy

    • L. Bondioli
  3. ‡Facultad de Ciencias Antropologicas, Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, 455 LL 41–43 Centro Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

    • A. Cucina
  4. §Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, Lawrence 66045-2110, USA

    • D. W. Frayer
  5. Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet, 75116 Paris, France

    • C. Jarrige
    • , J. -F. Jarrige
    •  & G. Quivron
  6. ¶Dipartimento di Fisica, Universitá di Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy

    • M. Rossi
  7. #Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, 00184 Rome, Italy

    • M. Vidale
  8. Laboratoire GBPH, UMR 6046, Université de Poitiers, 86022 Poitiers, France

    • R. Macchiarelli


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to R. Macchiarelli.

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