Oral pathologies of the Neolithic Iceman, c.3,300 bc

Roger Seiler, Andrew Spielman, Albert Zink, Frank Rühli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The famous Iceman 'Ötzi' (South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Bolzano, Italy), a Neolithic human ice mummy, offers a unique opportunity to study evolutionary aspects of oral disease. The aim of this study was to assess, for the very first time, his oral cavity, which surprisingly had never been examined systematically. Based on several computed tomography (CT) scans from 1991 onwards and on macroscopic investigation, only a few findings, such as a central maxillary diastema, heavy abrasions, and missing wisdom teeth, were known. We re-evaluated the latest CT scans from 2005 and found various oral pathologies. In line with the increase of tooth decay in the Neolithic - because of diet change in this historic transition phase - several carious lesions were found, one of which penetrated into the dental pulp. In accordance with the Iceman's troubled life, as several injuries on his body and his violent death attest, mechanical trauma of one of his upper front teeth is evident. Finally, the poor periodontal condition of the Iceman's dentition (e.g. loss of alveolar bone), indicative of periodontitis, was assessed. These oral pathological findings in the Iceman's dentition provide a unique glimpse into the evolutionary history of oral conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-141
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Oral Sciences
Volume121
Issue number3 PART1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Fingerprint

Oral Pathology
Dentition
Tooth
Mouth Diseases
Diastema
Archaeology
Mummies
Tomography
Alveolar Bone Loss
Dental Pulp
Museums
Third Molar
Periodontitis
Phase Transition
Wounds and Injuries
Ice
Italy
Mouth
Interviews
Diet

Keywords

  • Caries
  • Mummy
  • Paleopathology
  • Periodontitis
  • Prehistory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

Cite this

Oral pathologies of the Neolithic Iceman, c.3,300 bc. / Seiler, Roger; Spielman, Andrew; Zink, Albert; Rühli, Frank.

In: European Journal of Oral Sciences, Vol. 121, No. 3 PART1, 06.2013, p. 137-141.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Seiler, Roger ; Spielman, Andrew ; Zink, Albert ; Rühli, Frank. / Oral pathologies of the Neolithic Iceman, c.3,300 bc. In: European Journal of Oral Sciences. 2013 ; Vol. 121, No. 3 PART1. pp. 137-141.
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