• post-medieval;
  • teeth;
  • diet;
  • health


High resolution incremental isotopic analysis of the dentine from early forming teeth, especially first molars (M1s), provides a means to assess the effects of poor childhood nutrition and healthcare on individuals in an assemblage where there are no infants to study. This approach is applied to an 18th and 19th century cemetery population associated with St Saviour's Almshouse burial ground in Southwark, London, to assess whether, or how, early dietary history, including weaning age, influenced health and nutritional status. The results show a general pattern in which non-breast milk foods were introduced before or by 6 months of age, as indicated by elevated δ15N during this period. Almost all individuals for which we also have second molar (M2) records, showed lower δ15N values from a very young age (>1 year) until approximately 8–10 years, compared to adult values. The overall results show a significant difference in δ13C (p = 0 to 4sf, F = 17.327) and a weaker statistical difference in δ15N between males and females (p = 0.019, F = 5.581). One possible cause of this is a difference in the diet of males and females early in life, or alternatively, a greater susceptibility of males to nutritional deprivation compared to females. The latter argument is strengthened by a significant difference in the incidence of enamel hypoplasia between the males and females, with 7.7% of male teeth showing defects, compared to 3.9% of females. Am J Phys Anthropol 154:585–593, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.