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Found: A 13,000-Year-Old Dental Filling Made of Bitumen

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At least 14,000 years ago, humans were trying to fix each other’s cavities. Back in 2015, a team of researchers announced they had discovered the earliest evidence of dentistry—tiny scratches on a molar tooth that were made by a flint tool.

Now, in a new report published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, these researchers write that about a thousand years later, dentistry had advanced. People weren’t just physically manipulating teeth to treat cavities but filling them, too.

The new paper, according to New Scientist, describes small holes made in two front teeth (both from the same mouth) that contained traces of bitumen—a black and viscous material made of hydrocarbons. Basically, it looks like an Ice Age dentist filled a cavity with the same sort of material we use today to pave roads. Hopefully it helped with the cavity pain, because it must have tasted really, really bad.


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