Department of Anthropology, University of Florida
Thursday All day, Plaza Level
Dental modification is found in various populations around the world; however, it is rare in the Mariana Islands. A Chamorro population from Guam yielded a large number of individuals that span the island’s two prehistoric time periods, the Pre-Latte and Latte, allowing for a diachronic study, which due to poor preservation and small samples, was not previously possible in Guam.
The Pre-Latte population (n = 104) is identifiable by a relative absence of betelnut staining which is seen in only 5% of the population. Additionally, dental incising is rare and seen in one individual. The Pre-Latte dentition displays abrasion on the labial surface of the maxillary dentition in 48% of the population and is not sex specific.
More than half, 64%, of the Latte individuals (n = 111) exhibit betelnut staining. Dental filing occurs in 6% of the population, and while rare, appears in various forms including: cross-hatched, parallel vertical lines, diamond pattern, and trapezoid pattern. Dental abrasion is only found in two individuals.
Analysis of these populations shows obvious cultural changes that occur over time. The Pre-Latte population can be characterized as one in which a repetitive task-related pattern creates labial abrasion. This activity is mostly abandoned in the Latte Period, where dental incising combined with betelnut chewing is dominant. Such differences in the dentition demonstrates a shift in behavioral patterns over time and may also be useful in delegating skeletal elements to the appropriate time period when stratigraphic information is not available or lost.