The prevalence of pulp stones in historical populations from the middle euphrates valley (Syria)



There are many reports in the literature concerning pulp stones in contemporary living populations, but there are no descriptions of cases of pulp stones and their prevalence in populations of the past. Here we present a study of pulp stones in a series of archaeologically derived samples from the Middle Euphrates Valley (Syria) obtained from two sites: Terqa and Tell Masaikh. The specimens were assigned to five periods: Early Bronze (2650–2350 BC); Middle Bronze (2200–1700 BC); late Roman (AD 200–400); Islamic (AD 600–1200); and Modern Islamic (AD 1850–1950). A total of 529 teeth representing 117 adult individuals of both sexes were examined. Pulp stones were identified by X-ray and 10 selected specimens were sectioned for histological study. Pulp stones were found in 99 of 117 individuals (85%) and in 271 of 529 (51%) teeth. Pulp stone prevalence was found to increase with age, for individuals of older age classes have more pulp stones than younger individuals. Intriguingly, the prevalence of single pulp stones was higher among older individuals (36–45, >46), while younger individuals (17–25, 26–35) more often possessed multiple stones. Individuals with moderate to highly advanced dental wear have pulp stones significantly more often than individuals whose tooth wear is limited to invisible or very small facets. Though there is no statistical significance in the prevalence of pulp stones across chronological periods, it appears that a high level of calcium in the diet is accompanied by a greater prevalence of pulp stones. Am J Phys Anthropol 153:103–115, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.