Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bad Teeth in the Epipaleolithic

Bad dental news from the Moroccan rock shelter of Grotte des Pigeons:
Scientists reviewed the dental condition of 52 skeletons dug up at the Grotte des Pigeons complex at Taforalt in eastern Morocco over the past 10 years. These skeletons covered a period from 13,700 years ago to about 15,000 years ago.

All bar three individuals displayed tooth decay, with cavities or other lesions affecting more than half of the surviving teeth. In some individuals, the oral health was so bad that destructive abscesses had developed. Wild plant remains at Taforalt indicate these Stone Age people were snacking frequently on sweet acorns, pine nuts and pistachios. Snails were also popular.
You can see a very painful abscess on the right side of that jaw above. "Sweet acorns" apparently just refers to any acorn that is sweet, and could be several different species of oak. In case you wondered. Like I did.

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