Anthropology, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Saturday 4:00-4:15, Galleria South
This study documents dental caries prevalence between males and females from Late/Final Jomon period Japan and interprets the results within regional context. Late/Final Jomon period people from Honshu Island consumed elevated amounts of cariogenic plant food mixed with maritime and terrestrial animals, while those from Hokkaido had a diet that was rich in marine resources. Both regions had similar population density. If differences in caries prevalence between the sexes are attributable to reproductive ecology, then significant differences in carious tooth frequencies should be observed between males and females from Hokkaido and Honshu. Individuals from Honshu and Hokkaido were divided into three age groups based on tooth wear. Prevalence of dental caries was compared between males and females from these regions using a Fisher’s exact test. Significantly greater frequencies of carious teeth are observed between males and females from Honshu Island in all age groups for molariform teeth (AG1: P < 0.036, AG2: P < 0.0014, and AG3: P < 0.0001). Frequencies of carious teeth are not significantly different between males and females from Hokkaido Island in any age or tooth group. The results indicate that differences in caries prevalence between Late/Final Jomon period males and females primarily reflect dietary variation. Based on these conclusions and the discourse regarding sex differences in caries prevalence, this study advocates moving away from a foundation of “knowledge gatekeepers” within the bioarchaeological community towards the free exchange of ideas grounded in the scientific method, and as mentioned by earlier work, regional contextualization of results.