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Keywords:

  • enamel hypoplasia;
  • periodontitis;
  • antemortem tooth loss;
  • dental attrition;
  • alveolar defect;
  • caries;
  • calculus;
  • Middle Holocene;
  • forager

Abstract

This investigation of the Cis-Baikal dental record focuses on health and lifestyle reconstruction of the region's mid-Holocene foragers, with particular interest in an apparent fifth millennium BC biocultural hiatus. The four cemetery populations considered represent two distinct biological and cultural groups separated by an apparent 700-year hiatus: the late Mesolithic-early Neolithic Kitoi culture (6800–4900 BC) and the middle Neolithic-early Bronze Age Serovo–Glaskovo cultural complex (4200–1000 BC). Research focuses on the frequency and severity of seven dental health indicators: enamel hypoplasia, caries, alveolar defects, periodontitis, antemortem tooth loss, dental calculus, and dental attrition. Together, these seven indicators provide a basis not only for better understanding mid-Holocene lifeways in the Cis-Baikal but also for independently assessing the relative effectiveness of the different adaptive strategies employed by pre- and posthiatus peoples. Results reveal some discrepancies between the Kitoi and Serovo–Glaskovo, specifically in their relative vulnerability to physiological stress, providing evidence to support previous interpretations of their distinct adaptive regimes (namely the narrower resource base and decreased mobility of the former). Results also suggest that some of the differences observed among the four sites may reflect geographical or environmental factors rather than simply cultural ones. However, despite these distinctions, the overriding trend appears to be one of general continuity, social equality, and good health among all mid-Holocene occupants of the Cis-Baikal, pre- and posthiatus alike. Am J Phys Anthropol 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.