The Italian Almanac


Italian News - April 8

Italian researchers say they have found the world's oldest dentists - drilling away in Pakistan 9,000 years ago. The Neolithic precursors of today's dental experts "used tiny flint-tipped wooden drills they managed to whirl around 20 times a second, using little bows," said Renato Guarini of Rome University.

Signs of drilling have so far been seen in eleven molars out of a trove of almost 5,000 teeth found at a necropolis in Pakistan, Guarini said, "It's an extraordinary discovery." The teeth have been loaned by the Pakistan government to Rome's Pigorini ethnography museum, where experts hope to find more holes.

Materials that could have been used to fill the drill holes are abundant at the Pakistani site, he noted: bitumen, resin and cotton. The Rome researchers collaborated with experts in Paris, Poitiers, Kansas and Yucatan on their study, which is set for publication in the prestigious international journal Nature.