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Amanda Henry in Sapiens.org about microfossils in a Finnish skeletal collection

The Southwestern part of Finland isn’t exactly known as a great place for archeologists to go and find anything than the sturdiest of remains. The conditions in this part of Finland make artifacts crumble quickly over time. Therefore, two archeologists decided to look in an unexpected place: between the teeth of the people buried in Luistari cemetery.

Amanda Henry, Associate Professor at Faculty of Archeology of Leiden University and doctoral student Tytti Juhola went out to look for “microremains” between the teeth of the people buried in the Luistari cemetery. ‘Microremains are just starting to be recognized as important tiny pieces of the archaeological puzzle that can help scientists reconstruct the way people lived in the past’. The spaces between the human teeth are a good source of these microremains, as particles of the things we put in our mouths tend to stick in the plaque that accumulates on our teeth. Henry believes that the field of microremains has a lot potential, but she notes that researchers in the field of microremains shouldn’t make too much out of too little. 


Henry and Juhola found bird feather fragments which might have found their way into the mouth from a feather pillow or simply from breathing in while plucking a bird. Their presence indicates that there might have been some digestive troubles or health and hygiene issues among these Iron Age people. Although the details are small contributions, they can add texture to a picture of human lives long ago. 

Read the full article on the website of Sapiens.org

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