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Archaeologists Find Medieval Dentures Made from the Teeth of Dead People

Archaeologists Find Medieval Dentures Made from the Teeth of Dead People

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A team of scientists from the University of Pisa in Italy made an unusual discovery in an ancient family tomb in Lucca – a set of dentures that was constructed using teeth from several deceased people. The prosthesis dates back to between the 14 th and early 17 th century, but if confirmed to be from the 14 th century, it will be one of the oldest known sets in Europe.

The Local reports that the set of false teeth was found at the chapel of San Francesco in a tomb belonging to the Guinigis, a powerful family of bankers and traders who governed the city of Lucca from 1392 until 1429. Members of the Franciscan order were present at the site since 1228, but the current church dates from the 14th-century.

The convent of San Francesco in Lucca, Italy ( CC by 2.5 / Sailko )

The researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal of Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research that the dentures are composed of five teeth, canines and incisors, which came from different individuals. They are linked together by a strip of metal composed mostly of gold, along with silver and copper, the latter metal causing the green staining on the teeth.

Two small golden pins were inserted into each tooth crossing the root and fixing the teeth to the gold strip. The prosthesis would have stuck to the wearer’s lower gum. An analysis of the calculus on the dentures indicates that the dentures had been worn for a long period.

The set of dentures discovered in Italy. Credit: University of Pisa

Dentistry, including drilling and filling, has been practiced for at least 9,000 years, while the first attempt at connecting human teeth together to be used as false teeth can be traced back to the Egyptians as far back as 3,500 years. In Italy, the Etruscans and Romans began making sets of false teeth around the 7 th century BC.

There are three known instances of dental bridges found in Egypt in which one or more lost teeth were reattached by means of a gold or silver wire to the surrounding teeth. In some cases, a bridge was made using donor teeth. However, it’s a bit unclear whether these works were performed during the life of the patient or after death – to tidy them up before their burial.

Incredible dental work found on an ancient mummy. The two centre teeth are donor teeth.

In the 1400s, dentures seemed to take more of the modernised shape that we see today. These dentures were still made from carved animal bone or ivory, but some were now made from human teeth. Grave robbers often used to steel the teeth from recently deceased people and sell them to dentists, and the poor used to make money by having their teeth extracted and selling them. The finished denture would not be very aesthetically pleasing or very stable in the mouth, and was often tied to the patients remaining teeth. Another problem that occurred with these dentures is that they tended not to last long and began to rot over time. The first porcelain dentures did not arrive until the 18th century.

Writing in their paper on the finding, the researchers explain: “'This dental prosthesis provides a unique finding of technologically advanced dentistry in this period… during the Early Modern Age, some authors described gold band technology for the replacement of missing teeth. Nevertheless, no direct evidences of these devices have been brought to light up so far.”

One member of the team, Dr Simona Minozzi, told The Local: "The dentures found in the tomb are the first example of dentures from this historical period, and as such are a valuable addition to the history of dentistry."

Lapis Lazuli Found in Teeth of Medieval European Woman

What were women up to in medieval Europe? Well, it's really hard to say because almost nobody was bothering to write much down about their daily activities (except for people like that attention hog, Charlemagne).

But a research team studying the diet of medieval people found something unusual in the dental plaque of a middle-aged 11th-century woman buried in a rural monastery in central Germany: tiny blue specks. It was a puzzling discovery, but this small clue is already changing our understanding of what types of work women in medieval Europe could do.

It turns out those tiny blue specks were bits of one of the most valuable substances in the medieval world: lapis lazuli, a mineral imported to Europe from Afghanistan to make the pigment ultramarine. It was so rare and sought after that it cost as much as (or sometimes more than) gold on the medieval markets. And for good reason — the raw lapis had to travel from the mines in Afghanistan, thousands of miles through Egypt and Constantinople to Europe. When it got there, making the pigment itself was a 50-step ordeal involving lots of grinding and rendering with lye, pine resin, assorted waxes and oils. The mass of the finished pigment was only about 10 percent of that of the raw mineral. It's no wonder it was dealt out so sparingly to painters and the monks who created illuminated manuscripts, in which ultramarine was used almost exclusively to render the deep blue of the Virgin Mary's robes.

It's strange, then, that this woman — probably a nun — would have this pigment in her teeth. The only explanation is that she was an artist. And not just any artist — an artist skilled enough to be entrusted with the most expensive stuff in medieval Europe.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances on Jan. 9, 2019, suggests that this is the only explanation, and that this research might open new avenues into the way we study ancient people. The nun with ultramarine in her teeth probably got it there by licking the end of her brush — so maybe the dental plaque in the mouths of other medieval people hold clues to their daily lives as well. We may find ways of proving women were blacksmiths and carpenters, too.

"Here we have direct evidence of a woman, not just painting, but painting with a very rare and expensive pigment, and at a very out-of-the way place," said senior study author Christina Warinner of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in a press release. "This woman's story could have remained hidden forever without the use of these techniques. It makes me wonder how many other artists we might find in medieval cemeteries — if we only look."

Ultramarine was exceedingly hard to come by during the medieval period. Michelangelo is said to have abandoned at least one painting because he was unable to obtain it.

Ancient Egyptian dentistry

Egyptians were very knowledgeable about the human body. Because blood was drained and the internal organs removed for mummification, they developed a better understanding of the human body. The Egyptian doctors wrote manuals on many medical procedures. We find evidence of some of the earliest dental procedures to be carried out in one of these manuals, dated to between 3000 and 2500BC. These usually involved the extraction of teeth or drilling of cavities.

The History Blog

In 2010, archaeologists from the University of Pisa excavated the tomb of the powerful Guinigi family in the San Francesco Monastery at Lucca. Scions of the wealthy family of merchants and bankers had ruled the city of Lucca from 1392 until 1430 as capitani del popolo (captains of the people, ie, dictators), and even after the family was overthrown and the Republic reinstated, the Guinigi remained one of the most prominent families in Lucca for centuries.

In 1358, the Guinigi Chapel was built near the convent of San Francesco. The bodies of family members were buried in the private chapel through the first half of the 17th century. Instead of being interred in separate areas, the remains were laid to rest in two large collective tombs. Over the years the bones were shifted around to make room, so when archaeologists excavated the chambers, the remains of more than 200 people were disarticulated and commingled making it impossible to reconstruct the skeletons of individuals.

Mixed in with the jumbled skeletal remains in the lowest stratigraphic layer of the south tomb, the team discovered a unique archaeological treasure: a centuries-old dental prosthesis. It is made of five human teeth — three central incisors and two lateral canines — joined by a gold band running through the root ends of the teeth. The teeth all came from different, let’s just say, donors. (Shoutout to Fantine from Les Miserables.) Examination under a microscope and CT scans found that the roots of the teeth were cut and abraded to relative evenness. Then the a thin cut was made across the bases of the teeth and a thin gold was inserted into the cuts. Two small holes were cut in each tooth and gold pins inserted to fix the tooth to the band. At each end of the device, the gold was bent into s-shapes and pierced with a hole. These ends were attached to the living teeth, likely with ties, as indicated in illustrations of similar dental prosthetics from the 16th and 18th centuries

Because it was found in the earliest layer, it may date to as early as the 14th century, but it would have been very easy for the dentures to fall through successive layers of bones, so stratigraphy is of no help in dating the piece. This was highly advanced dentistry in Early Modern Europe. The gold band technology was mentioned in period sources from Guy de Chauliac (ca. 1300-1368), the French physician who first recognized there were two kinds of plague, Bubonic and Pneumonic, to Pierre Fauchard (1678–1761), the father of modern dentistry.

Archaeologists were not able to match the dentures to any of the mandibles found in the tomb, but the presence of dental calculus covering the holes indicate the prosthetic was used for many years. Indeed, Fauchard’s description of such appliances emphasizes their longevity. From the 1746 edition of his treatise Le Chirurgien dentiste, ou Traité des dents:

“Teeth and artificial dentures, fastened with posts and gold wire, hold better than all others. They sometimes last 15–20 years and even more without displacement. Common thread and silk, used ordinarily to attach all kinds of teeth or artificial pieces, do not last long.”

/>The dentures found in the Guinigi predate Fauchard by at least a century, but they are notably more complex than the device he describes. The gold band runs inside the roots of the teeth, fastened with pins and the appliance is anchored to in situ teeth with those s-shaped ends. Fauchard just attaches a band to the lingual and buccal surface of the teeth using strings run through holes drilled into the teeth.

One member of the team, Dr Simona Minozzi, said: “Although there are descriptions of similar objects in texts from the period, there is no known archaeological evidence. The dentures found in the tomb are the first example of dentures from this historical period, and as such are a valuable addition to the history of dentistry.”

The study of the dental appliance has been published in the journal Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research. It is not, alas, freely available for perusal, but if you have an institutional subscription or six bucks to spare, you can enjoy some more detailed images of the holes, gold band and dental plaque.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 at 5:33 PM and is filed under Medieval, Modern(ish). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Judging from what archaeologists have learned from examining the bones and teeth of long-dead humans, people have been bothered by dental problems for thousands of years. Simply put, many of these ancient folk had holes in their teeth and probably suffered from toothaches and also abscesses, whose pain can be excruciating. At least in some places, they did what they could. Evidence of the use of dental drills has been found in Neolithic graves in Pakistan. (The Neolithic Age lasted from 12,000 to 5,000 years ago.)

But perhaps the earliest evidence of dentistry has been found in an archaeological excavation near Lucca in northern Italy. According to an article in the July/August 2017 issue of Archaeology, two human teeth dating to about 13,000 years ago, showed signs of manipulation by hand tools, resulting in the extraction of the diseased pulp in each tooth. These front teeth were then filled with a mixture of bitumen, vegetable fibers and hair, comprising in a kind of root canal procedure during the Ice Age!

The earliest writing regarding toothaches took place about 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Etched on cuneiform tablets, the Sumerians wrote of demons and tooth worms causing tooth decay. People would pray to gods such as Shamash, Anu or Ea to cure them of their painful oral afflictions.

Then about 2250 B.C.E. (before the Common Era), physicians began treating toothaches with something other than invocations to some god or another. A mixture of henbane and beeswax was heated by a hot iron, and then the smoke directed to the decayed tooth. The cavity was then treated with a cement of powdered henbane seed and gum mastic.

The first dentists appeared in Egypt about 2600 B.C.E. (about the time the Pyramids were built), and one of the best was named Hesi-Re, considered the "chief toother." However, there&aposs no evidence that these dentists did anything more than treat toothaches and oral lesions.

The Chinese of about 5,000 years ago treated toothaches with substances such as arsenic, which typically killed the pain and perhaps the patient as well. Acupuncture was also used for tooth problems 26 body sites were designated for relief of toothache.

As for the much revered ancient Greeks (Hippocrates, Aesculapius and Aristotle, et al.), they believed that all disease, including tooth decay, was caused by an imbalance of the four bodily fluids or humors. This was how bleeding began as a treatment, and it continued to be used in dentistry until the early years of the twentieth century!

Former Army brat uses national platform to elevate issues of race, mental health

Posted On July 23, 2020 20:05:13

One of FOX News Channel’s most prominent news anchors is hosting a primetime special Sunday on race in America.

Harris Faulkner, co-host of Outnumbered and solo anchor of Outnumbered Overtime, elevated a number of critical subjects to the forefront since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, including a virtual town hall about COVID-19’s impact on mental health with retired Marine Johnny Joey Jones. This Sunday, FNC will debut a primetime one-hour special entitled Harris Faulkner Presents: The Fight for America. The broadcast will spotlight discussions surrounding the national conversation about race in America and the path forward for the country, according to a press release.

Faulkner is a founding member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council and Mentor Match programs at FOX News, helping to develop the next generation of diverse and dynamic television news talent. She brings a global perspective to her role as a journalist, too, having grown up in a military household. Faulkner explored her father’s Army service in a bestselling book titled 9 Rules of Engagement: A Military Brat’s Guide to Life and Success.

“I got to see someone do what he loved and that was a very powerful motivator in my life, from as young as I can remember. My dad was a combat pilot, Army, late stages of the Vietnam War — did two tours. And that was hard duty no matter when you went, but the political tide in the country made it doubly hard. He obviously, like me, African American fighting abroad in a war that wasn’t popular, came home and it was tough,” Faulkner said.

Like most military families, she moved frequently as a child, living around the U.S. and overseas in Germany. She was just a little girl when her father returned from multiple deployments to Vietnam.

“He did back-to-back tours, and these were pretty long. And I say all of that because the first layer of patriotic spirit for me came when dad returned home and those first few years of growing up around somebody who, I witnessed. I don’t remember every second of the struggle that was going on in America — both politically and racially and civil rights and all of that — but it’s been told to me throughout the years. My dad would say, ‘Yup, there were struggles in the U.S.A. and I fought in a war that maybe not everybody backed, but I was fighting for a country that I believed in — and I knew needed me’. And he said, I would rather fight for a country that’s going through struggle and have it be the United States of America than any other place in the world. He said because we are a nation of potential,” Faulkner said.

The ideals her father taught her about growing up American continue to shape Faulkner throughout her life, she said. It was in the fabric of their home.

“I’m someone who truly believes this nation has enormous, unmatched potential. And no matter what we deal with, we have an incredible way of making it through the fire and to the other side in a way that people watch us and say, how did they do that and how do we incorporate that into what we got going on,” she said.

And Faulkner has used her own national platform to address tough issues facing the nation at this critical time, like the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have the kind of contagion that coronavirus can’t match. Our contagion is resilience and love and potential. And I really do see us as a beacon of light around the world. We are facing this pandemic and there is no overestimating it. This is tough. This is tough if you’re trying to not get the virus or if you’ve had it and you’re trying to fight it off, or if someone you love has had it and was not successful. It is really hard,” Faulkner said.

She adds that despite the current challenges, “we will come out stronger and we are going to have to innovate and create and invent. This is a scientific challenge for us, but I believe we can do it.”

This Sunday, Faulkner tackles the other trending topic facing Americans about the state of race relations in the country. The one-hour primetime special includes a series of virtual guests for an open discussion on the complex issues, including Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former NFL star Herschel Walker, Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Joe Gamaldi and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Topics to be discussed include the nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, debates over defunding the police, removing historical statues, and more.

Faulkner started her career with FNC in 2005. Nearly two years ago, she was given another hour to anchor with a brand-new show called Outnumbered Overtime. The show debuted at #1 in its timeslot, where it has remained since launching with average viewership of 1.7 million per week.

Follow Harris Faulkner’s updates, including of her work and candid family outings, at https://www.instagram.com/harrisfaulkner.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

More links we like


6 Galleries Of Miniatures

In 2017, archaeologists explored a tiny Indonesian island called Kisar for the first time. They found they were not the first humans to set foot on the 81-square-kilometer (31 mi 2 ) patch. Kisar was covered with cave paintings in at least 28 locations. The art was thousands of years old and, intriguingly, quite small.

The expressive images measured 10 centimeters (3.9 in) and included boats, horses, dogs, and human figures holding different items. Their size and style link them to ancient art found on the neighboring island of Timor. This revealed that the two locations probably shared a closer bond than previously believed.

The age of the miniatures is not established with certainty. But the oldest could be 3,500 years old when new settlers brought domesticated animals such as dogs. Some of the younger images could have been made when trade brought metal drums from Vietnam and China to the area about 2,500 years ago. Among the myriad of tiny paintings are people playing similar drums. They also resemble some of the figures that decorated the imported instruments. [5]

These 1,000-year-old, blue-specked teeth could rewrite medieval history

Christina Warinner

A close-up of the lapis lazuli found in the dental calculus of a medieval skeleton. Monica Tromp

Dead men tell no tales, or so the saying goes. But one woman just managed to illuminate her life story from beyond the grave.

In 2014, archaeologist Anita Radini was studying the dental calculus of bodies buried in a medieval church. This hardened plaque, or tartar, is the bane of a modern dentist’s existence, but it’s crucial evidence for researchers peering into the past. While other body parts disintegrate, teeth often stubbornly remain, and the chemical components of these pearly whites can offer a glimpse into our daily lives.

At the time, Radini was scraping old teeth in pursuit of calcified starches, a useful proxy for diet. Her colleague Christina Warinner, an expert in the evolution of ancient microbes at the Max Planck Institute, hoped to better understand oral bacteria. But something in the mouth of specimen B78 distracted both researchers from their initial pursuits: scattered specks of a brilliant blue.

“Can you imagine the kind of cold calls we had to make in the beginning?” Warinner told The Atlantic. “‘Hi, I’m working with this thing on teeth, and it’s about 1,000 years old, and it has blue stuff in it. Can you help me?’ People thought we were crazy.”

So Warinner and Radini assembled a multidisciplinary color detection squad. Monica Tromp, a New Zealand-based expert in particle analysis with the Max Planck Institute, took on the task of identifying the blue hue’s origin. Alison Beach, a history professor at The Ohio State University and an expert in medieval German women’s role in copying illuminated manuscripts, offered essential cultural context. Warinner and Radini even consulted a scholar of medieval trade about the economic context in which B78 lived. What they found brought a smile to everyone’s face.

B78’s pearly whites revealed a wealth of information about her daily life. Christina Warinner

B78, the authors determined, was a woman who lived sometime between 997 and 1162 A.D. She died in middle age, between 45 and 60 years old. Save for the blue color in her mouth, she “was otherwise unexceptional,” according to the study authors. But in a new paper published this week in the journal Scientific Advances, the color detectives showed B78 had lapis lazuli in her mouth—evidence she was a highly-skilled copier of manuscripts in a time when most people assume illumination was the exclusive domain of men.

“It didn’t surprise me, it thrilled me,” says Beach, the history professor and co-author in the study. Beach has studied female manuscript makers since graduate school, hoping to make the public understand their role in producing some of the most elaborate artworks of the age. But because most of the volumes are unsigned—and the few that are signed were signed by men—making the case for women’s role in these spaces has always been a challenge. But the blue found in B78’s teeth is stronger evidence than you might expect.

A self-portrait of Guda, a 12th century nun and illuminator, signed “Guda, a sinful woman, wrote and painted this book.” The source of the blue-green color is unknown. Guda Homilar.

Blue was, is, and will continue to be the hardest color to find or create. While the earth is abundant with brown, green, red, and even yellow pigments, finding a stable blue is like willing a river to stop flowing. As recently as 2017, a chemist made headlines around the world for discovering the first new blue in 200 years, christened YInMn Blue.

In the medieval period, artists had roughly five sources of the color: ultramarine, azurite, Egyptian blue, smalt, and vivianite. The most prized of these was ultramarine, more commonly known in its ground and purified form as lapis lazuli. Found only in one region of Afghanistan, for millennia lapis lazuli demanded the same price as gold. It wasn’t, in other words, something you’d expect to find in random medieval dental calculus. “This isn’t a kind of paint you just give to someone who’s learning,” Beach says (contrary to the suggestion of an outside reader evaluating the paper before publication, who believed the woman was just a janitor cleaning up after the real manuscript makers).

The study entertains other possibilities—that B78 was undergoing lapidary medicine, where she swallowed pigments for her health, or that she engaged in “devotional osculation,” where Christians kissed paintings as part of worship. But the way the blue pigment was distributed deep into the teeth, in fairly consistent layers over time, indicated B78 was one of the “modest and pious women who quietly produced the books of medieval Europe,” the authors wrote. Specifically, Beach thinks B78 and her colleagues would have been narrowing the point on their fine-tipped brushes with their mouths, mixing lapis lazuli into their dental plaque in the process.

Beach and other medieval historians are optimistic this method will apply broadly to other manuscript makers of the era. “I had never heard of using dental calculus as a window on somebody’s everyday life,” Beach says, but now that researchers know where to look, the possibilities feel limitless. “There’s so few sources that medieval historians have for ordinary people. This one clue of the lapis lazuli opens a whole window on the life of a pretty ordinary women in a period in which we have almost no sources,” Beach adds.“She’s not a queen, she’s not a duchess. She’s just a person who lived and worked and died.”

Centuries ago, those killed in action were not usually honored, but were instead stripped of valuables. Those &ldquovaluables&rdquo included their very corpses. The dead of Waterloo had their teeth pulled out, to get fashioned into dentures. Waterloo was such a bonanza for Britain&rsquos denture industry, that sets made of human teeth were known as &ldquoWaterloo dentures&rdquo for years afterwards.

Their bones &ndash like the bones of those killed in other Napoleonic battles such as Austerlitz and Leipzig &ndash were shipped to Britain, and ground into fertilizer. As a correspondent wrote in The Observer in 1822: &ldquothe good farmers of Yorkshire are, in a great measure, indebted to the bones of their children for their daily bread&ldquo.

Genghis Khan is known to be one of the most vicious rulers of all time. It is believed that in the 13th century, he killed so many people that it led to lower levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After killing 40 million people, his armies had left nobody to farm the lands. This led to the regrowth of forests in these farmlands. It is estimated that these forests helped clean 700m tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the air!

Watch the video: Οδοντοστοιχίες. Άμεσες, επένθετες και οδηγίες για νέους χρήστες (July 2022).


  1. Chavivi

    Excuse, the phrase is removed

  2. Cynhard

    How do you order to understand?

  3. Charro

    you have to be more modest

  4. Tygojas

    Do you have to understand that she wrote?

  5. Holdyn

    Bravo, excellent thinking

  6. Boulus

    This conditionality

  7. Reginald

    Good idea

  8. Anubis

    I'm sure this is not true.

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