Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Earth Science

Iceman Had Bad Teeth 130

sciencehabit writes "Europe's best-known mummy wasn't just a medical mess; he also had terrible teeth, according to a new study. Ötzi, a Stone Age man who died atop a glacier about 5300 years ago, suffered from severe gum disease and cavities. When Ötzi was discovered atop a glacier on the Austro-Italian border, his frozen corpse was intensively studied. But no one took a close look at his teeth until now. Using 3D computer tomography (a CAT scan), the hunter's mouth could be examined for clues as to the life he led. A fall or other accident killed one of his front teeth, still discolored millennia later. And he may have had a small stone, gone unnoticed in his whole-grain bread or gruel, to thank for a broken molar. That gruel may be the culprit behind Ötzi's cavities and gum disease, too. The uptick in starches, the researchers suggest, could explain the increasing frequency of cavities in teeth from the time—a problem that's been with us ever since."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Iceman Had Bad Teeth

Comments Filter:
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:25PM (#43426315) Homepage
    Well, things can always be a little too simple, but that doesn't mean we should make them as complicated/not-simple/technological as possible. It's perfectly possible to have good health without being inundated with technology for our entire lives.
  • Re:Paleo diet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:39PM (#43427377)
    Actually it's pretty well established in the archeological record. Prior to wheat and rye agriculture the human diet was pretty similar to that of Homo Habilis, so we had plenty of time to adapt to that. Subsequent to the establishment of agriculture in the Middle East dental disease became a major cause of death, and in Europe in some portions of the Middle Ages it was the single leading cause of death. It seems to be more associated with a wheat and rye diet though, because I don't believe the same thing was seen in the areas where rice or maize were the principle grain crops. (Could be wrong, since I'm just working on memory.) Small stones left in flour seem to have been the primary culprit in many cases, breaking teeth, getting stuck between teeth, and injuring gums.
  • Re:Evolution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:49PM (#43427501)
    "Hardly anyone lives short from molar abscesses" any more. It used to be a major cause of death in the Middle Ages in Europe and well into the colonial period in the Americas.
  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @06:23PM (#43427813) Homepage

    Every once in a while, you hear of some local government or some NGO sponsoring an expensive piece of equipment for a hospital, then even with judicious use the hospital runs out of the yearly cap by May, making that equipment gather dust.

    While here in good ol free market USA, virtually all our major equipment in our small rural hospital has been purchased by funds from various NGOs because we don't have the right mix of patients to make money off the bizarre US system. To add insult to injury to 'the best medical system in the world', we have increasing problems with drug unavailability []. Nothing like a lack of sterile saline solution to kick your medicine back a couple hundred years.

    The US system is failing on so many levels that it's pretty embarrassing.

  • by pwizard2 ( 920421 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:43PM (#43428793)

    Mod parent up.

    To compare the Romans to cavemen is an insult. Romans were extremely advanced for the time. The legions (when not fighting) could build damn near anything and could build it to last. Roman roads survived the middle ages with little to no maintenance and are still servicable today. Meanwhile, our roads quickly crumble and deteriorate without yearly maintenance. Roman aquaducts and sewers meant that cities had running water and decent sanitation (including flush toilets), something not seen again until the late 19th-20th century. After the collapse of Rome, Europe would spend the next 1800 years shitting in a bucket. Romans even had a primitive steam engine. It wasn't deployed much (if at all) outside of design drawings but a steam-powered vehicle could have been possible if the empire had lasted a bit longer.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong