Original paper

The gold nun: a case of a gold ligature from the 15th century and the origins of restorative dentistry in Europe

Cunha, Eugénia; Leal, Catarina; Munhós, Miguel; Baptista, Isabel Poiares

Anthropologischer Anzeiger (2017)

published online: Aug 17, 2017
manuscript accepted: Jul 19, 2017
manuscript revision received: Jul 16, 2017
manuscript revision requested: Jun 10, 2017
manuscript received: Mar 26, 2016

DOI: 10.1127/anthranz/2017/0762

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Abstract We here report the discovery of a gold dental ligature from the late 15th century, at the Convent of Santa Clara-a-Velha, in the city of Coimbra, Portugal. A medieval Clare’s nun presented the left upper lateral incisor splinted to the canine, since the others three incisors were lost, most probably due to an aggressive periodontal disease. The convent is associated with the medieval upper class, which was well known for its consumption of high levels of sugar. There is a higher prevalence of caries in comparison to other Portuguese skeletal samples of the same time period, as well as a high prevalence of periodontal disease. Thus far, this is one of the earliest findings of dental treatment in Europe.


gold ligaturecariesdental treatmentaggressive periodontitis15th century