Too much flouride

is bad for your health. So say archaeologists, ARCHAEOLOGISTS? (yes), who have been researching and digging up ancient Tadmoor or Palmyra or Palmyra Hadriana.

As a waypoint on the ancient Silk Road, the metropolis of Palmyra had it all, broad towers, impressive temples and enviable trade. Water from local wells even contained fluoride, limiting that scourge of the ancients — tooth decay.
But just as the wealth of Palmyra vanished, leaving behind ruins in the Syrian desert, a new study suggests its waters may also have been ruinous in the end for the city’s inhabitants.

My favorite line, though, is this one:

Palmyrans drank, and still drink, water from wells tapped from ground water by long tunnels called “qanats” (an excellent Scrabble word).

(I am not very good at Scrabble.)

Now the opening paragraphs, the first blockquote, say that the flouride may have been “ruinous” for the inhabitants. Which made me think, erroneously, that it somehow killed them off. It did, however, cause them problems.

Despite Palmyra’s prosperity, “skeletal remains uncovered from the underground tombs of Palmyra have been found to retain an arthropathy of the joints, especially in the knee joint, bone fracture, marked bone lipping, spur formation, and eburnation (smoothed bone cavities),” ….

But the Palmyrans’ symptoms, along with discolored teeth, point to “fluorosis,” a skeletal and enamel-damaging syndrome caused by ingesting too much fluoride over a long time, the researchers note. Looking at two large tombs for example, 25 of 33 individuals (76%) had discolored teeth in one, and 45 out of 65 (69%) had discolored teeth in the other.

found via Mirabilis