The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Stigmata of congenital syphilis on two high status pre-Colombian juveniles from Oaxaca, Mexico


1Anthropology, San Diego State University, 2Anthropology, University of Central Florida, 3Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder

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Differential diagnosis of congenital syphilis from skeletal remains should consider all bony and dental manifestations. The presence of dental stigmata in two juveniles from the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico (late Terminal Formative Period, 150 BCE – CE 250) are discussed. Both children were likely high-status members of pre-Colombian populations. The first child, was from the site of Yugüe, and was found with a green stone bracelet. The second child, from Cerro de la Cruz, was interred with 1 bowl, a necklace of 22 canine teeth, and was in direct association with two other burials.

Additionally, a two-tier system is introduced for describing dental malformations that may suggest either environmental variation in the bacterial assault or in host response. Taphonomic changes precluded in-depth observations of the skeletons, dental traits such as plane-like hypoplastic defect and Fournier’s molars are described and compared to previous studies. The individuals presented here are from early Mesoamerica cultures with dentition that resembles the dental stigmata of others who have been described as having congenital syphilis.

Funding for the osteological field research was provided by grants from the College of Arts and Letters, Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Grant (RSCA), and the University Grants Program, San DiegoStateUniversity.

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