Student Finds 5,000-Year-Old Chewing Gum

I love little archaeology news bits like the following, because such findings are like a time machine to me. They give us a window into how humans lived daily life back in the day.

The story starts off with Sarah Pickin, a student who was helping excavate a site called Kierikkikangas in Finland. While digging, she found a lump of birch bark tar complete with neolithic tooth prints! Neolithich Chewing GumThe image to your right is the actual chewing gum she found. The birch bark tar contains phenols, which are antiseptic compounds.

University of Derby Professor Trevor Brown comments on the finding,

“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.”

What is even more cool about this finding is that when I was in Ethiopia, and we would come across tree sap while trekking. The Afar would chew it as if it were chewing gum.

A bit of ethnoarchaeology for ya.

We even made a song about it, “Elemma mira taloleh,” which translates to, “Elemma chews gum.” We would sing this as a mantra. I tried the tree sap gum and it was delicious.

Anyways, I’m getting off topic. Sarah Pickin also found a,

“beautiful four centimeter long worked slate arrow which is from the so-called “Typical Comb Ceramic period” 3500-4000 BC.”

Here’s a photo of her holding up the arrow head.

Sarah Pickin’s Slate Arrow Find

4 thoughts on “Student Finds 5,000-Year-Old Chewing Gum

  1. The 23-year-old was on a volunteer programme on the west coast of Finland when she found a piece of Neolithic chewing gum – a chewed cob made from birch bark tar.Sarah, who studies at Derby University, also uncovered part of an amber ring and a slate arrow head at the Kierikki Centre.All the items will be on display at the centre after they have been analysed in laboratories…

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