Ancient Egyptian Woman’s Teeth Suggest a ​Peculiar Profession She Might Have Had


During a routine analysis, two archaeologists have discovered on the teeth of an ancient Egyptian woman who lived over 4,000 years ago, signs that she might have had a profession other than the other ancient Egyptians have had.

When it comes to Ancient Egypt, we have obtained full information so far, including illustrated records, sculptures and figurines which were buried with the deceased so they could have helpers in the afterlife. To be able to tell what kind of daily roles people have had in the past, it can often be challenging. However, bones never lie, and that’s how the archaeologists​ think, after examining the teeth of an Egyptian woman, that women might have had other occupations besides the ones the old records suggest.

The analysis implies that she was a craftswoman based on the fact that two patterns on her 16 and 24th teeth are not consistent with eating, but suggest that she was using her teeth for something else. This information comes with a certain amount of surprise as scholars assert that there were only seven professions women could have had in the ancient Egyptian culture, based on paintings and recovered texts from the tombs.

A research team from the University of Alberta listed on a paper the seven careers known to be open to women in Ancient Egypt and they are as it follows: for high-status and well-connected women – priestesses in temples dedicated to goddesses​, for women with talent and skills, musician, dancer, and singer professions, for aristocratic women cloth weaving, and lastly midwives.

The peculiar occupation of this Ancient Egyptian woman stunned the researchers

The remains were excavated in the 1970s from a necropolis in Mendes, which was once the capital of Ancient Egypt. The woman has presumably lived more than 50 years and lived approximately around 2181-2055 BCE. Compared to the other remains belonging to the same era, she was well respected, and only her teeth showed these particular patterns of the nearly 1,070 total teeth from the burial site and excavation of their 92 skeletons.

By using scanning electron microscopy and micrography, researchers have found that her two central maxillary incisors had extreme wear in a wedge-shape, and 14 teeth had flat abrasions.

Researchers have made a connection between the wears found on her teeth to the ones found on the teeth of craftspeople discovered from the other cultures around the world. The wears look alike to the ones created by splitting plant material using their teeth, such as reeds. Since papyrus contains silica phytoliths​, these wears could have been designed in the same pattern as she had if a craftsperson was using their teeth to split it.

Other marks, consistent with horizontal and side-to-side motions were found, suggesting that she was brushing her teeth because of the plant residues stuck as a consequence of her task, the researchers wrote. The study has been published in Bioarchaeology of Marginalized People.


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