Ancient “Chewing Gum” Reveals a 5,700-Year-Old Microbiome

Toward the end of the Stone Age, in a small fishing village in southern Denmark, a dark-skinned woman with brown  hair and piercing blue eyes chewed on a sticky piece of hardened birch tar.

When she discarded the tar, it was sealed away under layers of sand and silt for some 5,700 years until a team of archaeologists found it. Amazingly, they were able to extract the woman’s complete genome from the birch tar, along with her oral microbiome and DNA from food she may have recently eaten.

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