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Keywords:

  • Odontometry;
  • Morphology;
  • Pathology;
  • deciduous teeth;
  • Amerindians

Abstract

The deciduous dentition of 58 individuals from groups of prehistoric Ohio Valley Amerindians (2,000 B.C.-1,600 A.D.) was measured for antero-posterior and bucco-lingual dimensions and scored for morphological characteristics and macroscopic pathology. Only five dimensions of the posterior teeth and the frequency of severe linear enamel hypoplasia showed significant differences in the groups. In all cases focal agriculturalists exhibited smaller teeth and a higher frequency of severe linear enamel hypoplasia.

These findings are explained as the result of changing diet and food preparation techniques, and/or sampling bias in the earlier burial cult groups where primarily higher status individuals may be the representatives.

Comparison of metric and morphological characteristics of the deciduous dentition in the prehistoric Amerindians and roughly contemporaneous European groups indicates morphological characteristics are the better means of discrimination.