400-year-old teeth prosthesis found in an Italian grave

Archaeologists excavating a monastery in the Tuscan town of Lucca have unearthed a unique 400-year-old dental prosthesis. The find appears to pre-date modern tooth bridges.

The teeth (by Simona Minozzi)
The teeth (by Simona Minozzi)

The appliance consists of five teeth, three central incisors and two lateral canines, which are aligned in an incorrect anatomical sequence. Believed to originally belonged to different individuals, the teeth were linked together by a golden band, as a CT scan revealed. The teeth were aligned and a subtle golden lamina was inserted into the fissure. The prosthesis was anchored to the individual’s teeth through two S-shaped ends featuring two small holes. Additional strings were probably used to hold it in place.

CT images of prosthesis (by Simona Minozzi)
CT images of prosthesis (by Simona Minozzi)

The find was unearthed in a tomb belonging to the ancient Giunigi family in Lucca, where the scientists have been studying the remains of more than 200 skeletons buried in a chapel of the San Francesco convent. The scientists believe the device dates back to between the late 14th and early 17th century, making them the oldest known set in existence. The Etruscans and Romans are known to have made dentures out of human and animal teeth as early as 7BC.

(after Simona Minozzi, Seeker & The Local)

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