Given that it has been over 20 years since the body of Otzi the Iceman was found, one would think that scientists had discovered all they could, about this Neanderthal who inhabited the earth some 5,300 years ago. Turns out the one thing they had not examined was his teeth, and what they discovered, would make any dentist cringe!
The results, which were recently revealed by Roger Seller, a dentist from the Center of Evolutionary medicine at the University of Zurich who used computer tomography to analyze Otzi's mouth, provide further interesting insights into what his day-to-day life must have been like.
Turns out, that like many people during those times,the Iceman had very bad oral hygiene, which resulted in numerous cavities, extensive tooth decay and also gum disease or periodontitis. The experts believe that the significant tooth decay, largely caused by the lack of brushing and flossing, was exacerbated by his starchy diet that comprised of breads, cereals and porridge. And while debris from the stones that were used to grind flour and often ended up getting incorporated in the bread and porridge helped somewhat to clean his teeth, they also ended up wearing them down. In fact, one of the Iceman's molars showed severe damage that experts believe was caused by the regular crunching of small stones.
Hailed as one of the most remarkable finds in history, Otzi was found by two hikers on a mountain range between Austria and Italy. His remains were so intact that scientists even found evidence of meat and unleavened bread in his intestine - The last meal he had consumed about eight hours before he died.
Beside him were all his tools, including a bow and arrow, dagger and copper ax. Even more surprising was his well-preserved sophisticated clothing that comprised of a hide coat, an intricately woven grass cloak, leggings, loin cloth and shoes. Otzi's body was marked with over 57 tattoos, which scientists believe may have been a result of some form of acupuncture treatment to help arthritic knees.
There are many speculations about how the ancient Iceman who was believed to be about 45 years old, died - Some believe it was exhaustion, others that he was killed by a fellow shepherd or robbers. While nobody will ever be able to confirm that, one thing is for sure - At the time of his death, Otzi the Iceman had very bad breath!
Resources: dailymail.co.uk, newswatch.nationalgeographic.com