Emperor's ivory toothbrush unearthed in Rio

20th Sep 2013

Tourists on city breaks to Brazil's Rio de Janeiro are used to its inspiring cultural sites.

But archaeologists were amazed to unearth 200,000 pieces from a site being used for an extension to the city's subway lines for the 2016 Olympics.

They found an ivory toothbrush believed to have belonged to Brazil's Emperor Pedro II.

The experts also dug up a minty toothpaste made by a European chemist for the Portuguese queen.

All the finds date from between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Brazil is no stranger to intriguing sights.

The country boasts the Zoological Park of São Paulo, restaurants galore and the infamous Catedral da Sé.

Brazil's footballing capital, Rio de Janeiro, is a World Heritage Site, and hosts one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer, the world's biggest Art Deco-style sculpture.

The ivory toothbrush believed to have belonged to Dom Pedro II, who ruled Brazil from 1831-1889, has gone brown with age.

Its boar bristles have long vanished, but the inscription is still readable: "His Majesty the Emperor of Brazil."

A round white porcelain pot inscribed with "to the Queen of Portugal Maria of Saboia" is believed to have contained mint-flavoured toothpaste created for her by a chemist working in London and Paris.

More than two dozen archaeologists, historians and others started excavating the plot, a former slaughterhouse site, in northern Rio last March.

It is near the former imperial palace and believed to have once been used as a landfill by the royal family, team members said on Wednesday (September 18).

The pieces are in incredibly good condition, many of them still intact.

Dozens of glass and ceramic bottles assumed to have once contained water imported from Europe for the royals were also found.

Excavations, which have been halted pending the subway expansion, will resume after the project is finished.

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