Ancient 'chewing gum' reveals how woman may have looked 5,700 years ago

Gum is generally a one and done piece of entertainment. We chew, it loses its flavor within five to ten seconds, and it gets stuck under a desk or ground into the pavement to blacken under the gaze of Father Time.

So it's a bit surprising to find that a 5,700 year-old form of ancient 'chewing gum' remembers its owner well enough that scientists were able to recreate her entire genome, and also see what she had just eaten. You deserve an explanation. Per Scientific American:

"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."

Modern archaeologists have dubbed her village "Syltholm," situated in a pleasant coastal lagoon protected from the Baltic Sea by sandy barrier islands, according to SA. She is believed to either have chewed the tar to "repair a piece of pottery or a polished flint tool" since birch tar was a common adhesive material inthe Stone Age. "Or she might have simply been enjoying what amounted to Neolithic chewing gum. In any case, 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."

Barney Rubblegum

The story doesn't end there. The DNA on the tar allowed scientists to piece together what she may have looked like, her diet, the "bacteria and viruses she carried with her, where her people could have come from and whether they may have begun to adopt farming."

Among other tidbits, it told us she probably had herpes, pneumonia, lactose-intolerance, and she had recently eaten hazelnut and mallard duck. It appears that piece of birch tar has more factual educational material to offer society than the entirety of History's programming.

The find points to birch material as a ripe source of ancient human and microbial DNA, which can be used to shed light on the population histories, health statuses and subsistence strategies of ancient people, which may ultimately change our conception of the lives of our ancestors.

So the next time you chew gum, make sure you eat something to be proud of, then store it in an oxygen-free environment. You never know who's going to be judging you millennia from now.