BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 20 August 2007, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Student dig unearths ancient gum
A 5,000-year-old piece of chewing gum
Birch bark tar has antiseptic properties, scientists say
A 5,000-year-old piece of chewing gum has been discovered by an archaeology student from the University of Derby.

Sarah Pickin, 23, found the lump of birch bark tar while on a dig in western Finland.

Neolithic people used the material as an antiseptic to treat gum infections, as well as a glue for repairing pots.

Ms Pickin's tutor, Professor Trevor Brown, said: "It's particularly significant because well-defined tooth imprints were found on the gum."

He explained: "Birch bark tar contains phenols, which are antiseptic compounds."

Ms Pickin, who was one of five UK students on a volunteer programme at the Kierikki Centre on the west coast of Finland, said: "I was delighted to find the gum and was very excited to learn more about the history."

She added: "I am keen to work in this area in the future so the experience has stood me in good stead."

The archaeology student also found part of an amber ring and a slate arrow head which will be on display at the centre following laboratory analysis.

While Neolithic people chewed gum to treat infection, a spokesman for the British Dental Association said chewing sugar free gum after meals stimulates saliva which offers protection against tooth decay.

Hope over 'obesity-busting gum'
15 Jan 07 |  Health
The chewing gum war
24 May 07 |  Business


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific