A small piece of birch pitch offered valuable data about a girl who lived during the Stone Age. During that time, birch pitch was used as a kind of chewing gum.
With the help of advanced techniques, a team of researchers managed to extract the entire genome and oral microbiome of the girl. Lola lived almost 5,700 years ago in the land that is known today as Denmark. She had blue eyes, dark skin, and fair hair.
The last meal that was consumed before chewing birch pitch included mallard duck and hazelnuts. Data collected by the researchers infer that she was lactose intolerant and there were no traces of milk or other dairy products. It is important to highlight the fact that this is the first human genetic material that has been extracted in a pristine sate from something that isn’t bone.
The Story of the Ancient Chewing Gum in the Stone Age
Birch pitch has been employed as a glue for a long time, with the oldest samples being more than 760,000 years old. It was made by heating the bark of birch trees. At some point, someone realized that it could be chewed, a fact that is confirmed by several teeth marks that can be found on ancients pitch fragments.
Archeologists discovered a small amount of birch pitch at the Syltholm site, which is located on Lolland, the fourth biggest island of Denmark. Small lumps of birch pitch have been found across several archeological sites in Scandinavia.
Syltholm is favored by the fact that most of the items that were found were sealed in the mud. The mud kept organic remains intact in the long run. Since the site is the biggest Stone Age site in Denmark archeologists were able to uncover a large amount of data related to the local communities. More data can be found in a study that was published in a scientific journal.