A 6,500-year-old tooth packed with beeswax represents the earliest dental filling, newly published research says.

Found in part of a human jaw excavated in a Slovenian cave, the tooth is a left canine, thought to have belonged to a man aged between 24 and 30 years old. Research led by Federico Bernardini and Claudio Tuniz of the Abdus Salam Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy examined a vertical crack in the tooth, which had been filled with a resinous substance.

Now analysis published in the journal PLoS ONE has revealed this to be beeswax, possibly used to alleviate pain and sensitivity when chewing, though researchers could not rule out it being applied after the individual’s death.


This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 56. Click here to subscribe

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