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Whether or not our prehistoric ancestors could match many aspects of modern technology may be subject to debate. But in at least one area, the latest evidence is painfully clear. At around 9,000 years ago (over 4,000 years earlier than previously believed) primitive dentists were drilling holes in teeth and doing so with much skill, though possibly not without considerable discomfort to their patients. According to research published in the journal Nature in April, skulls recently found in a Pakistani graveyard bear 11 tiny drill holes which have now been carbon dated to about 7,000 B.C.

These were not merely poked holes, says the Nature report. They were drilled into hard-to-reach molars and, in at least one case, drilled into the inside back end of a tooth. Holes went as deep as one seventh of an inch, and, by all ac­counts were sufficiently well formed to impress modern dentists with their quality. A theory that the holes were for decorative purposes is ruled out since some are in hard-to-see locations. Researchers speculate that a bow was used to turn the drill, but that is only a guess.

Most of the reporting in the news media thus far has focused on the great pain which must have accompanied such procedures. The suggestion that the ancients could have possessed any means to control pain is scoffed at, as was—indeed, not too long ago—the mere idea of such ancient dental drilling. Once again a familiar pattern plays out: Conventional wisdom declares the ancients too primitive for a given capability (i.e., aligning their buildings with the stars). New evidence proves otherwise; the particular point is assimilated, but very narrowly. The same error— underestimating our ancestors—is repeated with the same arrogance in other areas and so forth and so on.


Evidence of advanced miniature drilling technology over 5,000 years ago has turned up in China. Archaeologist Zhang Jingguo is investigating a supposedly primitive tribal site near Lingjiatan in Anhui Province but has turned up what he describes as “superb” drilling technology and the world’s earliest stone drill bits.

The recent discoveries began in 1985 with the uncovering of a cache of Jade rings, stone axes and stone chisels. In the investigations since, the area has yielded many remarkable finds. One jade statue examined under 50-times mag­nification revealed tiny holes in the back with a diameter of only 0.15 millimeters, which would have required a drill not much thicker than a strand of human hair, and at a time before metal was used for tools. Also discovered was a stone drill bit which is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom with drills on both ends. It is screw shaped. Implicit in the discoveries is an advanced knowledge of physics, mathematics, geometry and mechanics. Such knowledge is not generally attributed to the people of that place or era.


A newly discovered pyramid in Mexico City is said to have a base as large as the celebrated Pyramid of the Moon at nearby Teotihuacan. In fact archaeologists say the ruin in a working class district was built by the same civilization which created the mighty “City of the Gods,” Mexico’s largest ancient city. Like Teotihuacan, the new site is conven­tionally dated to around 400 B.C. but little is known of it origins which, given the scale of the civilization that was de­veloped, certainly would have been much more ancient.

Unfortunately half of the unnamed pyramid is now destroyed and the other half will not be excavated, since the site is now in use for annual Easter celebrations. Like many ancient sites of once special significance to the natives, the spot was claimed by the Catholic church for its own purposes. The practice has been common throughout the his­tory of Christendom. In England, for example, many ancient spots are marked by the presence of churches and shrines built in relatively recent times. As researcher John Michell has pointed out, the perfect alignment of those points along straight tracks called ley lines is powerful evidence for the advanced state of forgotten prehistoric cul­tures.

Archaeologist Jesus Sanchez says the new discovery is buried under two feet of earth and was once nearly 60 feet high.

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