Chewed Birch Pitch May Reflect Hunter-Gatherers’ Dental Health


Contributed by SwedenMersin, Turkey——universe magazine According to the report, a research team led by Emrah Kirdök of the University of Mersin analyzed three 10,000-year-old pieces of birch pitch, a sticky substance made by heating birch bark to form a gel-like substance. The pieces of birch pitch were found at Huseby Klev, a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer site in western Sweden. The researchers compared ancient chewed birch pitch to modern samples, ancient human dental plaque, and samples of chewed tar from 6,000 years ago. They found higher levels of bacteria associated with poor dental health in samples from 10,000 years ago, although chewing birch pitch may have some antiseptic and medicinal properties. Researchers believe that using teeth for grasping, cutting and tearing may have exposed hunter-gatherers to a variety of harmful microorganisms. DNA from hazelnuts, apples, mistletoe, red foxes, gray wolves, mallard ducks, limpets and brown trout were also identified. These materials, in the form of food, fur, and bone tools, may have been chewed before people chewed birch pitch.Read the original academic article about this study scientific report. To learn about the DNA embedded in another piece of chewed birch pitch, visit Around the World: Denmark.



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