Ancient ‘chewing gum’ reveals oldest Scandinavian DNA ever found – proving humans settled area more than 10,000 years ago

ANCIENT chewing gum found by archaeologists in Scandinavia contains the oldest DNA ever found in this region.

The 10,000 year old gum is made from sticky Birch tree bark tar and can teach us a lot more about life in the Stone Age, such as when and where prehistoric people were migrating to.

The ancient chewing can be seen here between two casts showing clear teeth marks
Natalija Kashuba et. al/Stockholm University

Scientists at Stockholm University have successfully proven that chewed tar is an excellent source of DNA.

There are few human bones in Scandinavia which are as old as this gum and most of them are not preserved well enough to be useful in DNA investigations so the chewed substance is a great alternative.

The investigated chewing gums were found at a Mesolithic hunter-fisher site on the Swedish west coast called Huseby-Klev.

The DNA derived from a few pieces of the 10,000 year old snack turned out to be from three Stone Age individuals, two females and one male.

A number of chewing gums were found at the ancient fishing site of Huseby Klev on the coast of Sweden
The sticky gum substance may also have been used as glue for ancient tools
Natalija Kashuba/Stockholm University

It is thought that the birch bark tar would have also been used as glue to hold Stone Age tools together but the hunter-gatherer people would have chewed on it when they were bored.

Huseby-Klev was originally excavated in the early 1990’s but there wasn’t technology at the time to make analysing DNA from the chewing gum possible.

Luckily, the archaeologists preserved their finds well so that the Stockholm scientists could conduct their own research decades later.

Per Persson, one of the researchers who proposed the investigation, said: “DNA from these ancient chewing gums have an enormous potential not only for tracing the origin and movement of peoples a long time ago, but also for providing insights in their social relations, diseases and food.”

Previous research has suggested that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers had blue eyes

The DNA analysis suggests that the Huseby Klev individuals had more in common with western hunter-gatherer populations than eastern hunter-gatherers.

Each sample had a similar genetic makeup to other hunter-gatherer groups in Sweden and to early Mesolithic populations from Ice Age Europe.

However, the tools found at the site were similar to those found in modern day Russia suggesting a direct route that the hunter-gatherers were migrating in.

This study has been published in the journal Communications Biology. 

Who were the European Mesolithic hunter-gatherer people?

Here's what you need to know about these ancient hunter-gatherers…

  • Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were groups of people who lived in the Prehistoric period that would hunt meat and fish and gather edible plants
  • They harnessed the use of fire and made intricate hunting tools
  • The Mesolithic period started around 10,000 years ago in 8,000 BC and lasted until around 2,700 BC
  • This period is often defined by small chipped stone tools called microliths
  • DNA research has suggested that European hunter-gatherers in the Mesolithic period had dark hair and blue eyes
  • They often lived alongside rivers and lakes were fish sources would have been abudant

In other news, an ancient coin from a medieval African city has been found over 10,000km away on a beach in Australia – predating the first Brit explorers by up to

A new study has claimed that cannibal human ancestors would kill and eat each other because it was ‘more cost-effective’ than catching animals.

And, if ancient chewing gum isn’t weird enough for you, here are some of the most ‘cursed’ ancient artefacts and burial sites – including the mummy that ‘sank’ the Titanic.

Do you think the ancient chewing gum looks appetising? Let us know in the comments!

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Source: thesun
Ancient ‘chewing gum’ reveals oldest Scandinavian DNA ever found – proving humans settled area more than 10,000 years ago