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Student Finds 5000-Year-Old Chewing Gum

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the ur-tree-has-a-flavor dept.

Science 143

itsthebin writes "Sarah Pickin, 23, found the lump of birch bark tar — complete with neolithic tooth prints — on a dig in Finland. Ms Pickin's tutor at the University of Derby, Professor Trevor Brown, said birch bark tar contained phenols, which are antiseptic compounds. 'It is generally believed that neolithic people found that by chewing this stuff if they had gum infections it helped to treat the condition. It's particularly significant because well-defined tooth imprints were found on the gum which Sarah discovered,' he said. Ms Pickin was on a volunteer program at the Kierikki Centre on the west coast of Finland when she made the find."

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143 comments

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Goodness! (-1, Offtopic)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295383)

My nanoparticles detect normal levels of hydrogen peroxide emitting from the nubile young Sarah.

Re:Goodness! (0, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295419)

I got my first post stolen... by someone replying to the wrong story. Damn my luck!

Re:Goodness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295493)

Might I suggest RTFS?

If you are feeling bold, you could RTFA, or even just look without reading. The gp did and still got first post. He was just tying in another post to this one.

Re:Goodness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295569)

Ms. Pickin was pickin through the dirt? Interesting coincidence.

Re:Goodness! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20297575)

Sarah [kierikki.fi] looks kinda hot. I'd like for her to chew on my cum.

Re:Goodness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295455)

Nanoparticles. A strange but appropriate nick name for your phallus

Re:Goodness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295739)

OOOH YEA! my nanoparticles are so hard now! OOOOOOOOOOOOOH YEA BABY!!!

Re:Goodness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295893)

Odds of a slashdot reader making a "She's hot!" comment over any female shown in an article = 100%.

Re:Goodness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20296019)

The thing is, no one yet has - and she actually is hot!

Re:Goodness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20296615)

Thank you for verifying my theory.

Deja vu (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295389)

I tried the same thing when my teacher found me sticking some on the bottom of my desk. She didn't believe me.

Re:Deja vu (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295771)

That's easy; see, try sticking some on the bottom of your teacher; the desk will believe you!


Hey, if it's a glitch in the matrix we can all goof off, no?

Re:Deja vu (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296693)

I tried the same thing when my teacher found me sticking some on the bottom of my desk. She didn't believe me.

Tell her to wait 5,000 years.
     

I just gotta ask.... (4, Funny)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295393)

Was it found stuck under the top of a 5000 yr old desk?

Re:I just gotta ask.... (2, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295463)

Was it found stuck under the top of a 5000 yr old desk?

I think it was found on the bottom of a 5000 yr old shoe.

Re:I just gotta ask.... (2, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295681)

I wonder if it would have lost its flavor on a bedpost over 5,000 years.

Where it was found (5, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295571)

It was found in a brand new Topps baseball card pack. Topps said "Most of the gum we package with our cards is about 5000-6000 years old."

Re:Where it was found (2, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295869)

It was found in a brand new Topps baseball card pack.
In the pack, along with the gum were the rookie cards of Roger Clemens, Juan Franco, Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez and Jamie Moyer.

ABC Gum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295403)

In before mention of ABC Gum.

Re:ABC Gum (2, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295451)

In before mention of ABC Gum.

Actually, this would have been Aleph Beth Gimmel Gum.

And now someone please correct my spelling of the Hebrew alphabet.

Re:ABC Gum (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295487)

Change beth to bet and you're just about as close as you can get without actually using hebrew characters...

Re:ABC Gum (1)

Svippy (876087) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295559)

And Gimel is with one m.

At least that's what an Israeli told me.

Re:ABC Gum (1)

reset_button (903303) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295749)

The sound is closer to Gimmel than Gimel (it's closer to the 'i' in 'is', then the 'i' in 'island'). Anyway, as far as I know there is no official way of spelling Hebrew using English letters. An Israeli would know what you meant with either spelling.

Re:ABC Gum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295837)

They might have been lying. They are a very sneaky people.

Re:ABC Gum (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20297271)

Actually, this would have been Aleph Beth Gimmel Gum.
Actually, this would have been Alpha Beta Gamma gum.

I'm Greek you insensitive clod! (well, not really...)

Singapore (5, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295405)

This kind of makes me wonder if anyone 5,000 years from now will ever know that Singapore existed...

Re:Singapore (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296769)

This kind of makes me wonder if anyone 5,000 years from now will ever know that Singapore existed...

They'd be identified by all the spanking paddles and broken tailbones.
     

ABC (1)

i3spanky (191866) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295409)

It seems that they've discovered the mother of all ABC gum.

Geico "Caveman" character series on ABC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295727)

It seems that they've discovered the mother of all ABC gum


Speaking of ABC (American Broadcasting Company in the U.S.) and neolithic peoples, ABC is going to broadcast a new comedy series this fall based on the Geico Insurance character called "Caveman" (Tuesdays 8pm).

Re:ABC (1)

drpimp (900837) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295903)

This also became the first 5000 yr old jawbreaker when someone tried to chew it.

Needs to be said (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295415)

Double you pleasure, double your fun.

Even the cave man knew that.

Re:Needs to be said (1)

Codifex Maximus (639) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295537)

eclectro said:
> Even the cave man knew that.

You guys are underestimating cave men! Haven't you seen the Geico commercials? http://www.cavemanscrib.com/ [cavemanscrib.com]

What I want to know is... how the heck did they know that the broken amber ring was used as payment for seal skins??

Re:Needs to be said (3, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295717)

"You know, when I see those two twins on that Doublemint commercial? I'm almost embarrassed to say this but uh... I ain't thinkin' about gum..." -Bill Hicks

Re:Needs to be said (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296351)

You'd have to be pretty desperate to be interested in cavewomen

Unless you're that Geico caveman dude...?

Re:Needs to be said (3, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296415)

In the eternal words of Dani Filth (well...I don't know if he coined the phrase but it's on a Cradle of Filth shirt...) "Dead girls don't say no"

Mouthwash? (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295421)

So, it was the ancient predecessor of mouthwash.

Re:Mouthwash? (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295465)

Anyone know if it's better than listerine?

Which flavor listerine? (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20297371)

Listerine also has alcohol in it (the yellow one does, at any rate). On the other hand, green listerine has sorbitol which isn't present in the yellow one. But then again, the blue listerine has zinc chloride. To be on the safe side, use multiple flavors at once, then some Scope to be sure.

However, listerine isn't easily re-usable while this treesap gum could be...

Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295427)

does she run Linux?!

Photo Caption (5, Funny)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295429)

Seems like that photo caption isn't the best place to make that kind of typo!

Re:Photo Caption (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295859)

i dont get it, but i am an engineer, and dont speak english good and stuff ...

Re:Photo Caption (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295927)

ok i found it :)

Re:Photo Caption (2, Informative)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296255)

Here is the photo caption from the article, for those looking for it:

stone age "chewing cum"

(about 2/3 down the page)

Just wondering? (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295443)

What was it's flavour?

Re:Just wondering? (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295523)

Considering it had antiseptic phenols, I would guess it would 'taste' like anti-septic sprays: like a numb tongue.

Re:Just wondering? (1)

sjf (3790) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296037)

That'll be the anaesthetic, not the anti-septic, that numbs your tongue.

Re:Just wondering? (5, Funny)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295543)

What was it's flavour?

ummmm. Birch?

Re:Just wondering? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296329)

I can not help but wonder what the Rookie Card that came with the gum would be worth today?

Re:Just wondering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295573)

Are you volunteering to chew it?

Gross.

Re:Just wondering? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295609)

Yummm, rosin flavor! Hard to blow bubbles with.

Re:Just wondering? (1)

Soiden (1029534) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295773)

I don't know, but now it must taste like worms.

Re:Just wondering? (3, Interesting)

FlatLine84 (1084689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295867)

I would assume it has a similar flavor to modern day birch bark tar, which is similar to birch beer or root beer... Kind of a wintergreen flavor, but not as minty, if that makes any sense at all.... Loggers commonly used to chew on the stuff, and in my case I tried some whilst in the woods.

Re:Just wondering? (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295897)

it tastes like a BIRCH!

Re:Just wondering? (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296387)

Cum apparently...read the caption XD

Interesting fact... (5, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295481)

Fact: 4 out of 5 neolithic dentists surveyed would recommend birch bark tar to their patients who chew tar.

Re:Interesting fact... (5, Interesting)

ma++i+ude (580592) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295671)

You may be more correct than you think. Birch sap contains xylitol [wikipedia.org] , the sugar that's actually good for your teeth. It's still used in chewing gum, especially (and almost exclusively) in Finland where it was first discovered but increasingly in other countries as well. Find it in a supermarket near you.

Re:Interesting fact... (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295863)

Just to be pedantic...

Xylitol is actually a sugar alcohol, not a "true" sugar. Sorbitol is similar. Both are good for you because the bacteria in your teeth try to digest it, but can't actually get any nutrition from it -- so the energy spent trying is wasted.

Re:Interesting fact... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296385)

And both taste nasty... :)

Re:Interesting fact... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296091)

Yes, but which type of birch? To quote Wikipedia, "Birch is the name of any tree of the genus Betula (Bé-tu-la), in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae". The article there goes on to list 32 genetically distinct types of birch tree. I can't see how they'd produce identical chewing gum and I seriously doubt that every single variety would even be safe.

Re:Interesting fact... (2, Informative)

ma++i+ude (580592) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296865)

I wouldn't know if all birches produce xylitol but I guess it's possible if they are related. In Finland sap is collected from both of the common varieties, the silver birch (Betula pendula) and the downy birch (Betula pubescens), of which the latter gives more sap. There is a third native birch variety, the dwarf birch (Betula nana), but it's tiny so it wouldn't be much good for collecting sap.

Re:Interesting fact... (3, Informative)

ma++i+ude (580592) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296937)

In case anyone's interested, there seems to be a nice sap-collecting-howto, with pictures, here [cybis.se] .

Re:Interesting fact... (1)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295695)

Fact: 4 out of 5 neolithic dentists surveyed would recommend birch bark tar to their patients who chew tar.

What does the 5th one recommend?

Re:Interesting fact... (0)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296371)

And the 5th? Dead from a gum infection. . .natural selection was much harsher back then.

Re:Interesting fact... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20296571)

What about those patients who "chew cum"?

Re:Interesting fact... man tar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20297685)

ls
lump_of_birch_bark.tar

man tar

tar x lump_of_birch_bark.tar

ls

lump_of_birch_bark.tar

man tar

tar f lump_of_birch_bark.tar

ls

man tar

ls

lump_of_birch_bark.tar

man untar

ls

lump_of_birch_bark.tar

rm lump_of_birch_bark.tar

ls ..

I guess we need a few characters to get past the whatever program, sort of like generating a pgp key, but that's cool as long as it will post you can safely ignore this line.

It was no gum ... (0)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295547)

...It is the fossilized apple that Eve bit into in the Garden of Eden.

Re:It was no gum ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295663)

Eden is in Finland? Who knew!

Re:It was no gum ... (1, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295725)

Shhh... the creationists are listening.

Re:It was no gum ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20296139)

...It is the fossilized apple that Eve bit into in the Garden of Eden.
Didn't Adam bite the apple?

yeah but (1)

rubberbandball (1076739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295553)

could it help me quit smoking?

Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295595)

The shadow?

katch@citadel2.tribunemedia.net

Student finds 5000-yr-old chewing gum (1)

arsheive (609065) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295677)

...and it still had flavor. Suck on that one Stride! [stridegum.com]

everyone wants to know: (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295689)

did it lose its flavor yet?

The bubble gum company went extinct (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295751)

Because of birch tar's long lasting flavor, the average caveman never had to buy another pack. Not so coincidentally, companies began building products with predictable defects. Hence, the birth of a disposable goods society began soon after.

Collector's note (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295775)

Due to this gum's extreme age, the baseball cards sold with it were all rookies.

Interesting picture caption (2, Funny)

Rebelgecko (893016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295825)

One of the pictures is captioned

stone age "chewing cum"
Cue the jokes!

and the song continues... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295847)

DOES YOUR CHEWING GUM LOSE ITS FLAVOR ON THE BEDPOST OVERNIGHT?
Based on the 1924 original by Ernest Hare & Billy Jones
"Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?
(Marty Bloom / Ernest Breuer / Billy Rose)

Lonnie Donegan - 1958

Also recorded by : Ding Dongs

Oh me oh my oh you
Whatever shall I do?
Hallelujah, the question is peculiar
I'd give a lot of dough
If only I could know
The answer to my question
Is it yes or is it no?

CHORUS:
Does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?
If your mother says don't chew it, do you swallow it in spite?
Can you catch it on your tonsils, can you heave it left and right?
Does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?

Here comes a blushing bride
The groom is by her side
Up to the altar, just as steady as Gibraltar
The groom has got the ring
And it's such a pretty thing
But as he slips it on her finger
The choir begins to sing:

CHORUS

Now the nation rise as one
To send their wanted son
Up to the White House, yes, the nation's only White House
To voice their discontent
Unto the Pres-I-dent
The bonny burning question, What has swept this continent?
SPOKEN: If tin whistles are made of tin, what do they make fog horns
out of?
(2nd Voice: Boom! Boom!)

CHORUS

On the bedpost overnight
(2nd Voice: Hello there, I love you and the one who holds you tight!)
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sat'day night!
On the bedpost overnight
(2nd Voice: A dollar is a dollar and a dime is a dime!)
He'd sing another chorus but he hasn't got the time!
On the bedpost overnight, yeah!

Tree Gum (2, Interesting)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295849)

As a youngster, I used to chew pine gum while walking through the woods to relieve thirst. I wasn't aware of any tooth problems.

Am I still reading Slashdot? (4, Funny)

katarn (110199) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295865)

What? An article about a female who has an interest in the sciences, and no one has commented on that yet? Is this still Slashdot?

--
Won't someone please think of the trolls?

Truly Amazing (1)

neiko (846668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295871)

The truly amazing thing was that after tests, the gum still retained it's flavor. "Fabulous."

figured... (1)

ryanw (131814) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295875)

I've always wondered how "humans" existed for all these years without a toothbrush. You would think they would have cavities and tons of pains. I would guess that a major factor that contributed to the ancient human was that they didn't have sugar treats that would stick to their teeth. Proteins and things can stick to your teeth and cause quite a problem, but not as bad as a bag of skittles and coke can do in a day or two without cleaning the crap off your teeth.

Re:figured... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296069)

Not to mention the short life spans. These guys lived to be what? Early 20s or so? Hell, there are people in their early 20s who still don't have all of their secondary teeth. If teeth were being replaced every 10-12 years throughout your life you'd probably have little use for a dentist too.

Re:figured... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296257)

Actually, I'm pretty sure that lifespans didn't take a dive like that until agriculture and subsistence farming. I think that hunter-gatherers lived much longer, due to a relatively low rate of disease and a better diet.

Even then, the low "life-expectancy" that you read about is a bit misleading. Life expectancy got dragged down by very high childhood death rates. Once you made it past childhood, you had a reasonable expectation to live into your 50s or so.

So then I guess the question again is, how did anyone keep their teeth? :)

Re:figured... (2, Interesting)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296431)

The Mayan's (IIRC Might be a different civilization) life expectancy took a major dive with the invention of maize. If you look at the skulls of Mayans around that period you'll find lots of cavities and the like. The theory is that people before this time kept their teeth because they ate things like meat or whole vegetables, things which tended to be a lot tougher and didn't get into crevices in your teeth. With the invention of processed foods like maize people did begin to get cavities and loose their teeth early and then lifespan dive, hence the dive around the time of agricultural development.

Re:figured... (5, Informative)

BECoole (558920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296499)

Dental Carries didn't become common until man started farming cereal grains. As you guessed, cavities became even more common with the introduction of cheap sugar. You may enjoy this article about primitive diets. http://www.westonaprice.org/traditional_diets/nast y_brutish_short.html [westonaprice.org]

Yes, actually. The cat does "got my tongue." (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295885)

"It is generally believed that neolithic people found that by chewing this stuff if they had gum infections it helped to treat the condition.


The article continues:

"Scientists also found the tar blob contained traces of ethanol and THC, though they as yet don't know what effect this may have had on the ancient chewing populations."

I hope she found enough for everyone! (1)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295889)

Harumph.

Line edited out of original story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20295899)

Ms Pickin was on a volunteer program at the Kierikki Centre on the west coast of Finland when she made the find. After the find, Steve Irwin's ghost jumped out from behind a bush saying "Kierikki, what a find!"

(Sorry)

l337 archeology sk1LLz (1)

upside (574799) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295945)

I have to wonder how they manage to divine the exact history of an item, like

After that someone made a hole in the ring so that it could still be used as jewellery. It was transported from the Baltic coast c. 5500-6000 years ago as payment for seal skins that were produced in the Kierikki area in the Neolithic Period.

What? You can't be any more exact? I want to know the shape, weight and colour of the seal skins, and who bought them.

Otherwise a nice story. I have to go back and re-read the second paragraph a third time, though. I'm still trying to find Ms. Hossein and Ms. Rumana in the photo.

Flintsone Vision (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295947)

Just got this vision of Fred Flintstone chewing on some Wrigley's DoubleRock gum.

Package was found nearby (2, Funny)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20295961)

The article doesn't mention the package that was found nearby. It was a wooden box carved with

Grunt Growl Roar
Snort Grumble Grunt!

eBay? (1)

Innova (1669) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296125)

I wonder what the going price would be for it on eBay [bbc.co.uk] ?

Great (1)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296175)

Just great.... Now the evolutionists are going to build a whole skeleton out of something even less than a single tooth this time. Now it's just a tooth-print. *sigh*

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20296829)

Hey, it's better than you - building a whole theory of creation with even less than that: Absolutely NOTHING!

Old News (2, Funny)

Renaissance 2K (773059) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296279)

Anyone who's collected baseball cards between 1980 and 1994 knows they've been sticking 5000-year-old chewing gum in wax packs for ages already.

Chew Gum (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296307)

I came here to chew gum and kick ass. And, I am all out of gu....err...wait...what's this?

Obligatory... (1)

dokebi (624663) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296489)

I bet it's a marketing ploy by Wrigley's for a new line of chewing gums.

Reading Playboy for articles (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296689)

It is generally believed that neolithic people found that by chewing this stuff if they had gum infections it helped to treat the condition.

Yeah right, and caveman also started drinking wine because it's good for the heart. Russians always pick off birch tar and chew it because it tastes good and gives you something to do. I never heard anything about gum health.

The real question (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296749)

...is could cave men actually walk and chew gum at the same time?

Re:The real question (slight modif.) (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20296819)

...is could cave men actually walk upright and chew gum at the same time?
         
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