13 February 2024

Scientists have determined the diet of ancient people by tooth decay

Ancient inhabitants of Siberia, who lived more than three thousand years ago, suffered from dental caries and other dental diseases. In the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS presented the results of many years of research on dental diseases of ancient Siberians. This complex work scientists are conducting, studying the remains of people found in burial grounds of different epochs. If to summarize the conclusion, it sounds disappointing: dental caries, dental calculus and lifetime loss of teeth were a serious problem in ancient times.

The remains of 130 individuals from the Bystrovka-3 burial site, located in the Iskitimsky district of the Novosibirsk region, were studied.

The study of dento-mandibular pathologies showed that one third of the members of the study group had caries, both in adults and children. A high proportion of periodontitis, as a consequence, lifetime loss of teeth. The scientists made the assumption that these people had a lot of carbohydrates in their diet.

According to the researchers, the people who lived in this area had access to water. The land in these parts is fertile. The economic life of ancient Siberians was dominated by cattle breeding, fishing, hunting and gathering. Oral hygiene did not exist at that time. At least, archaeologists at excavations did not find objects that could be taken as toothbrushes. Such objects began to appear only in the Middle Ages.

The research is ongoing, and the final conclusion has not yet been reached. But one of the versions connects the change of diet of local herders and hunters with migrants. Archaeologists believe that the arrival of warlike nomads in the region could have a strong impact on the way of life of rather peaceful, not accustomed to defense, communities. The source of carbohydrates for ancient Siberians may have been poorly processed grain, scientists say.

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