The aetiology of dental calculus formation is not fully understood, but it is known that a number of factors play a role. Generally, anthropologists have overlooked the role of other causative factors in the formation of dental calculus, attributing it almost exclusively to diet, particularly protein consumption. Anthropologists have also oversimplified the role of diet in the formation of dental calculus. This may be due to a general paucity on research on dietary effects on calculus formation, as well as a lack of integration between anthropological and non-anthropological data. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.