Home » Technology News » 2011 » June » June 16, 2011

5,300-yr-old Otzi the Iceman had bad teeth due to high-carb diet!

June 16, 2011 - Washington

A new CT scan analysis has indicated that 5,300-year-old Iceman had bad teeth.

Otzi the Iceman, whose mummy was found in the Italian Alps 20 years ago, suffered from cavities, worn teeth and periodontal diseases.

The research dismisses the assumption that dental pathologies did not afflict the Tyrolean Iceman.

"In the past twenty years, The Mummy has been examined thoroughly both anthropologically and medically. However, oral pathologies were not found," the Discovery News quoted Roger Seiler, of the Center for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, as saying.

Using the latest CT scan technologies, Seiler and colleagues Albert Zink, at the EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Paul Gostner and Eduard Egarter-Vigl, at Bolzano hospital, analyzed The Mummy's facial bones, discovering several dental problems.

"Although the Iceman did not lose a single tooth until the his death at an age of about 40 years, he had an advanced abrasion of his teeth, profound carious lesions, and a moderate to severe periodontitis," they said.

In particular, the molars of the upper jaw showed loss of alveolar bone as a sign of periodontitis (inflammation of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth), while evidence of "mechanical trauma" was found on two teeth.

According to Seiler and colleagues, the most surprising find is the high frequency of cavities.

"These dental pathologies are a sign of change in the Neolithic diet," said Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at EURAC in Bolzano.

"We already know that he was eating grains, such as einkorn or emmer. The contained carbohydrates clearly increased the risk of developing dental diseases," added Zink.

The research has been presented at the 7th world Congress on mummy studies in San Diego, Calif..


Comment on this story