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Dentures go way back

Thousands of years before screen idols began beautifying themselves with cosmetic dentistry ancient Mexicans were getting ceremonial dentures.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 13:03 IST
AP

Thousands of years before screen idols began beautifying themselves with cosmetic dentistry ancient Mexicans were getting ceremonial dentures. Researchers report Wednesday that they found a 4,500-year-old burial in Mexico that had the oldest known example of dental work in the Americas.

The upper front teeth of the remains had been ground down so they could be mounted with animal teeth, possibly wolf or panther teeth, for ceremonial purposes, according to researchers led by Tricia Gabany-Guerrero of the University of Connecticut.

“It’s like he was using the mouth of some other animal in his mouth,” explained James Chatters, an archaeologist and paleontologist with AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc in Seattle, and a member of the research team.

Such modifications, typically using beasts of prey, became more common centuries later in the Maya culture, Chatters said in a telephone interview, but this is the earliest example that has been found.

The researchers said they found rock art and symbols related to other ancient cultures in the region including calendar symbols. In addition to the teeth they found pieces of skull and bones from his hands, legs and feet.