Dentition of a mesolithic population from Wadi Halfa, Sudan


  • Field work for this study was in part financed through National Science Foundation Grants GS-7, GS-286, and GS-557. (Principle Investigator: Dr. G. W. Hewes.)


The dentition of a Mesolithic population (8,000–11,000 years old) from Wadi Halfa, Sudan, can be characterized as morphologically complex, massive and relatively free from pathology except that associated with extreme wear.

Maxillary incisors show shoveling. All of the maxillary molars show some development of the hypocone. Supernumerary cusps appear frequently. Almost one-half of the second lower molars observed show distally located third cusps. Over one-half of the maxillary third molars show an extra cusp. A high percentage of mandibular molars show six cusps.

Overall the teeth from this population compare favorably in size with those of an Australian aborigine tribe and are slightly larger than the teeth of the Neanderthaloids from Skūhl.

The teeth show wear of a degree greater than that found in present day Eskimo or Australian aborigine groups.

This data may be interpreted as indicating that this Mesolithic group was subjected to rigorous selective pressures favoring large and/or morphologically complex teeth. This pressure was apparently intensive wear, presumably caused by the inclusion of large amounts of grit in the diet through the eating of vegetable food macerated on coarse grinding stones.