A pre-historic mummy that was discovered in 1991 has been given a dental examination for the first time; over five thousand years after he lived and breathed. The mummified man, known as Otzi after the Otzal Alps between Austria and Italy where he was discovered, was found to have a huge amount of dental problems – suggesting to scientists that Neolithic man did not have a healthy diet, surviving mainly on bread and cereal porridge.
Researchers found several large cavities in Otzi’s teeth, as well as dental damage to the front teeth, possibly the result of an accident. It seems the man – who was around 45-years-old when he died – did not spend too much time cleaning his teeth and had an ‘astoundingly large’ number of oral diseases and dental problems that modern man is still dealing with in the present day.
Professor Frank Ruhli, head of the study, said that ‘Otzi suffered from heavy dental abrasions, had several carious lesions – some severe – and had mechanical trauma to one of his front teeth which was probably due to an accident.’
The problems with decay have been attributed to the amount of starchy food consumed, particularly bread, which was widely available in the Neolithic period due to the rise in agriculture; some food was also highly abrasive, leading to erosion of the mineral layers and an obvious change in the shape of the teeth.