Palaeontology

Early Neolithic tradition of dentistry

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

Abstract

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.

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Figure 1: Maxillary left second molar from an adult male (MR3 90) from Neolithic Mehrgarh.

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Correspondence to R. Macchiarelli.

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Coppa, A., Bondioli, L., Cucina, A. et al. Early Neolithic tradition of dentistry. Nature 440, 755–756 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/440755a

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