Archaeologists recently discovered what could be Western Europe’s oldest dental implant in northern France.
According to a May 28 Daily Mail article, the implant, made of an iron pin, had been placed where the upper incisor would have been. Archaeologists discovered the “implant” in a burial chamber of a woman who died between the age of 20 and 30 during the Iron Age in Le Chene, France. A false tooth would have been attached to the iron implant, likely made from wood or bone, according to CBBC Newsround.
“The skeleton was very badly preserved,” Guillaume Seguin, one of the archaeologists who excavated the burial site, said. “But the teeth were in an anatomical position, with the molars, pre-molars, canines and incisors. Then there was this piece of metal. My first reaction was: what is this?”
Because implanting an iron pin into the jaw with no anesthetics would have been too painful to endure while alive, archaeologists believe the implant was added after the woman’s death to improve the appearance of her corpse, according to the Daily Mail.
Another theory suggests the implant was placed in her jaw while she was alive. Since iron corrodes within the body, an infection likely would have developed due to a lack of sterile conditions, which caused the woman’s death.
“This is an amazing find for Archaeologists and it is pretty cool to hear that there were ‘Dentists’ back that far doing procedures like dental implants – crazy stuff,” says Dr. Charles Botbol, DDS of Studio B Dental.
According to the Daily Mail, the woman’s skeleton had been buried in a well-furnished burial chamber near the grave sites of three other women. The burial chambers contained valuables like bronze jewelry, a coral and amber necklace and an iron currency bar of the Celtic La Tene culture.
The implant found at Le Chene was dated 400 years older than another one found at an Iron Age gravesite in France during the 1990s, the Daily Mail reported.