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   Undertoad  Monday Aug 20 02:14 PM

August 20, 2007: Oldest gum



It's Neatorama Collaboration Monday!



From the Guardian via Spluch comes this item: a 5,000 year old piece of chewing gum, found by a British archeology student.

The gum is made from birch bark tar, and the reason they think it's gum is that it has a big ol' human tooth print in it. Kinda weak, but that's how archaeologists think isn't it?

Also, it was stuck to the bottom of a prehistoric theater seat.

Future archaeologists will determine that pen caps are the gum of the year 2000, designed to be colorful and long-lasting and as flavorful as regular gum after use.

Quote:
Trevor Brown, her tutor at the University of Derby, said: "Birch bark tar contains 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."

Sini Annala, from the Kierikki Centre, said: "The actual material is some kind of tar, that was made by heating birch bark. After the tar was made ... it was boiled, and when it cooled, it became solid. "When it was heated again, it became softer, and it was used as some kind of chewing gum."
Obviously prehistoric man was much more intelligent than we moderns, able to work out all sorts of medicine and a complicated manufacturing process. Unfortunately they were unable to write any of this down and so their knowledge was lost to the ages. Who knows, maybe birch tar gum is the secret to curing cancer. Break me off a piece and boil and cool and reheat it, won't you? Mmm tasty.

Be sure to visit Neatorama for more neato items all the time!


Shawnee123  Monday Aug 20 02:26 PM

Violet Beauregard is going to be so pissed.



Spexxvet  Monday Aug 20 02:27 PM

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor over 5,000 years?



xoxoxoBruce  Monday Aug 20 03:06 PM

Life's a birch.



dar512  Monday Aug 20 03:40 PM

I bet this was the early equivalent for duct tape too.



Spexxvet  Monday Aug 20 05:03 PM

Ya know.... it could be a boogey.



Sheldonrs  Monday Aug 20 05:17 PM

Coincided with the discovery of the oldest known school desk.



Elspode  Monday Aug 20 10:13 PM

I heard an interview with the student who found this on the way home from work tonight. The interviewer had already thought of most of these jokes.



JuancoRocks  Monday Aug 20 10:59 PM

Oldest gum

Holey molar!



justush  Tuesday Aug 21 01:26 AM

Its actually a human brain. You couldn't eat it, just chew because people were thick blokes back then.



lumberjim  Tuesday Aug 21 01:54 AM

looks like an old cat turd.

this may be the ugliest picture of the day i remember seeing. Not that there haven't been uglier things....just that this bit of ....matter...is about as ..unpicturesque as it gets. I mean.....even really exceptionally ugly things that are pictures of the day because of their ugliness have a certain allure based in that selfsame nastiness. beautifully ugly....like those dogs. but this? it's a little piece of shit lying on some gravel.

DO OVER!



JuancoRocks  Tuesday Aug 21 03:32 AM

lumberjim
Looks like an old cat turd. ^^^^:p :p



Aliantha  Tuesday Aug 21 04:31 AM

Wasn't birch bark used as a pain killer at some time during human history? Is it possible someone had a tooth ache and was chewing on it for relief?



spudcon  Tuesday Aug 21 07:02 AM

Actually, it was always a rock. The tooth mark was made by a member the tribe of homo nodentus, or the toothless ones, who died out from their custom of eating rocks.



Kumbulu  Tuesday Aug 21 10:14 AM

If I accidentally swallow this, will it join the big pile of gum in my stomach and block up my stomach and make me dead?



SteveDallas  Tuesday Aug 21 10:22 AM

There's only one way to find out . . . .



Shawnee123  Tuesday Aug 21 11:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kumbulu View Post
If I accidentally swallow this, will it join the big pile of gum in my stomach and block up my stomach and make me dead?
Yes, it will lodge right next to the fingernails that are hanging out in your appendix (my 7th grade science teacher actually told me that one!) :p


manephelien  Tuesday Aug 21 04:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliantha View Post
Wasn't birch bark used as a pain killer at some time during human history? Is it possible someone had a tooth ache and was chewing on it for relief?
Not birch bark, but willow bark certainly. The scientific name of various willow species is Salix, and from the bark you get salicylic acid, which is further treated chemically to make acetylsalicylic acid which is used in Aspirin.

My grandmother told me that as a kid she and her friends used to chew on pine resin. She was born in 1913 and there was little candy, never mind chewing gum available.

Xylitol is birch sugar, refined from birch sap. It is used as a sweetener in sugarfree gum, and has the property of combating caries rather than causing it.


xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Aug 21 06:40 PM

I've chewed pine resin. Ya gotta get it good and dirty before it stops sticking to your teeth.



Elspode  Tuesday Aug 21 11:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliantha View Post
Wasn't birch bark used as a pain killer at some time during human history? Is it possible someone had a tooth ache and was chewing on it for relief?
This is exactly what was being theorized by the archaeologist who was doing the interview.


lumberjim  Wednesday Aug 22 12:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JuancoRocks View Post
lumberjim
Looks like an old cat turd. ^^^^:p :p
are you laughing because it looks like it says" lumberjim looks like an old cat turd"? or because you thought it was funny?


Cloud  Wednesday Aug 22 12:04 AM

and what will archeologists of the future think of the Gum Wall in Pike's Place Market in Seattle, I wonder?



JuancoRocks  Wednesday Aug 22 01:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lumberjim View Post
are you laughing because it looks like it says" lumberjim looks like an old cat turd"? or because you thought it was funny?
I hadn't thought about it that way.......But....Originally it was the latter.....
Looking back at it.....Either one works.....They both made me laugh.......As this has.....:p


Karenv  Thursday Aug 23 02:28 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliantha View Post
Wasn't birch bark used as a pain killer at some time during human history? Is it possible someone had a tooth ache and was chewing on it for relief?
Actually birch bark is still used as a pain killer and it contains the same essential oils as wintergreen, which operates topically, on a different principle than willow bark. Willow bark is like aspirin and works better internally as a tea or tincture. Birch bark is still chewed as a dentifrice by Native Americans. It also contains anti-cancer compounds and chaga, a mushroom that grows on birch trees and incorporates the oils is the strongest of the anti-cancer medicinal mushrooms.

No reason to think that primitive people were any less intelligent than us. We adapt to a different database, but few of us could survive living off of the land, hunting, modifying natural substances for food, medicines and tools. Cooking it to a tar isn't farfetched- ever see how taro is processed by the Amazonians. Taro, their staple food, is poisonous unless processed.

In fact since wild animals are invariably more intelligent than their domesticated cousins, it could be that we are less intelligent. (Thank heavens we can cover it up by googling.)


beauregaardhooligan  Saturday Sep 1 02:17 PM

Poi, which is made from taro, is a staple of Hawaiian food.
Taro isn't technically poisonous but has lots of indigestible fiber which could make you really sick and possibly die.
There are also taro chips available at health food stores that are made just like potato chips. I've had them, and they are really good.



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