Early Medical Intervention

It has been determined that dentists who lived 8,000 years ago used stone-tipped drills to repair teeth. Scientists at the University of Missouri have discovered tiny, perfectly round holes in prehistoric teeth found in Pakistan. The holes were too perfectly rounded to have been caused by decay. Under the microscope, researchers could see concentric grooves left by what was probably a drill with a tiny stone bit.

Andrea Cucina, who first discovered the holes, said that researchers suspect that plants or another substance were originally inserted into the holes to prevent further decay. ?At this point we can?t be certain,? he says, ?But it is very tantalizing to think they had such knowledge of health and cavities and medicine to do this.?

Now move forward in time to the ancient Egypt of 3,000 years ago. The March 31 issue of New Scientist reports that archaeologists have discovered 3 mummies that are wearing artificial big toes. There were scratches on the bottom of one of them, proving that it was worn in life and not just attached to the mummified body after death.

One of the toes was made by soaking linen in glue, then wrapping layers of it around a mold until it dried. Then it was painted and an artificial toenail was attached. Another one was carved out of wood. The third one is still under wraps and can only be viewed with X-rays. The toes had holes in them so they could be strapped to the foot or the wearer?s sandal.

Researchers believe that, while toes can be lost through accidents, the owner of the wooden toe, a woman who died at about age 55, had her original toe removed intentionally. It has been determined that the she suffered from arteriosclerosis, which can lead to gangrene in any body part that does not receive an adequate supply of blood.

One of the toes is on display at the British Museum?don?t miss it on your next trip to London.

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