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Dental Wear and Oral Pathology: Possible Evidence and Consequences of Habitual Use of Teeth in a Swedish Neolithic Sample
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.
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2008 (English)In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, ISSN 0002-9483, E-ISSN 1096-8644, Vol. 136, no 4, 423-431 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Atypical wear and oral lesions were studied in the dental remains from the Middle Neolithic Pitted Ware Culture site Ajvide on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Teeth (n = 764) from 17 males and 11 females were examined microscopically to document unusual wear, assess wear patterns and oral lesions as evidence of habitual behavior, and determine their effect on the oral health of this population. Five atypical wear types were observed: occlusal facets, occlusal excessive load, labial vertical striae, labial horizontal striae, and interproximal striae. Three oral lesions were recorded: chipping, periapical lesions, and dental tilting. Results indicate that teeth were used in a habitual manner at Ajvide, based on the morphology and regularity of the patterns of atypical wear. Differences were observed between the sexes, indicating gender-related differences in the habitual use of teeth. Some wear categories showed a significant correlation with age, signifying increased or accumulated wear with age. Statistically significant positive correlations were found in the molars between occlusal excessive load wear and periapical lesions as well as tilting. Other apparent links were also observed between chipping and vertical striae as well as excessive load, although these were not significant. This suggests a relationship between dental wear and dental pathologies at this site, suggesting that habitual use of teeth indirectly affected the general oral health at the site. Wear patterns, furthermore, seem to mirror both frequent activities as well as single events.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 136, no 4, 423-431 p.
Keyword [en]
Pitted Ware Culture, Gotland, Ajvide, dental lesions, extramasticatory wear
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-25391DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20824ISI: 000257766300007OAI: diva2:199644
Available from: 2008-09-02 Created: 2008-09-02 Last updated: 2012-08-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Tracing Prehistoric Activities: Life ways, habitual behaviour and health of hunter-gatherers on Gotland
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tracing Prehistoric Activities: Life ways, habitual behaviour and health of hunter-gatherers on Gotland
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the present thesis, skeletal and dental evidence of physical strain and habitual behaviour has been investigated through musculoskeletal stress markers (MSM) and extramasticatory dental wear. The skeletal and dental traits have been examined in relation to health patterns and material culture in order to gain better knowledge of life ways of hunter-gatherers on Gotland with special focus on Pitted Ware culture sites and the Ajvide site in particular. Skeletal assemblages included in the study derive from five Middle Neolithic sites on Gotland (n= 213): Ajvide, Västerbjers, Visby, Ire and Fridtorp; as well as a medieval sample from Sigtuna (n= 343).

Although inferring specific activities from particular skeletal traits is difficult, results imply that archery was performed at Ajvide, and particularly noticeable in males. Further sex and age related differences in MSM and dental wear were observed within as well as between sites, showing that there was a gendered division of labour within the Pitted Ware culture on Gotland. A correlation was furthermore observed between extramasticatory wear and periapi-cal lesions, indicating that habitual behaviour also posed a potential health hazard.

The general health of the hunter-gatherers on Gotland was poorer compared to Medieval Sigtuna, although separate health variables exhibit a more complex image of the patterns of health and activity in these populations signifying the two different ways of life. However, no direct link between physical strain and health status was found. Neither was there a clear association between patterns of eburnation lesions and MSM, although results show that factors other than age should be considered for the onset of osteoarthritis.

The study has shown both skeletal and dental evidence of physical activity and habitual behaviour in the Pitted Ware culture. It has also shown that activity patterns indeed may have consequences for the general health status of a population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur, 2008. 144 p.
Theses and papers in osteoarchaeology, ISSN 1652-4098 ; 4
Activity-related change, Musculoskeletal Stress Markers, Extramasticatory wear, dental wear, Health index, Pitted Ware culture, Neolithic, Ajvide
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8136 (URN)978-91-7155-613-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-09-19, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2008-09-02 Created: 2008-09-02Bibliographically approved

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Molnar, Petra
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