The chronological distribution of enamel hypoplasias from prehistoric dickson mounds populations

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Abstract

The chronological distributions of enamel hypoplasias (indicators of nonspecific stress) are assessed for 111 individuals from two prehistoric populations from Dickson Mounds, Lewiston, Illinois. The earlier population (circa A.D. 950–1150) involves a transition from an indigenous gathering-hunting tradition to increasing adoption of Mississippian lifeways. The later population (circa A.D. 1150–1300) is fully Mississippian (MM). Based on the occurrence of hypoplasias on all permanent teeth except third molars, 14 halfyear periods from birth to 7.0 years are graded for evidence of hypoplasiastress. Both populations have a low frequency of hypoplasia which occur before 2 years of age and after 4 years of age. A common peak frequency of hypoplasias between 2.0 and 4.0 years is suggestive of an elevated degree of stress at weaning. The peak frequency of hypoplasias is earlier in the MM (2.5–3.0 years versus 3.0–3.5 years in the pre-Mississippian population). In addition, the rise to and decline from peak frequency occurs approximately 0.5 years earlier in the MM. The earlier and sharper rise to peak frequency suggests earlier and more severe weanling-related stress. Hypoplasias chronologies are undoubtedly influenced by age-related host resistance factors (Sarnat and Schour, 1941). Nevertheless, these data demonstrate that populations may vary in their chronological distribution of hypoplasias and that these variations may provide useful information on age-related patterns of exposure to environmental stressors.

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