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

Why so worn? Tooth wear analysis of the Santa Barbara Channel area Chumash people


Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Saturday Afternoon, Council Suite Add to calendar

The dentitions of past groups of Chumash people from the Santa Barbara Channel area exhibit some of the most extreme patterns of tooth wear found within archaeological populations. They represent a complex group of hunter-gatherers who occupied this region of the world from approximately 13,000 B.P. and are associated with both a rich archaeological and skeletal and dental record. This allows comparisons to be made both geographically and temporally. The wear rate is calculated by measuring the dentine proportion (the area of exposed dentine relative to the area of the occlusal surface) of the first molars and second molars within each dentition. The dentine proportions of the second molars are then divided by the dentine proportions of the first molars to produce a rate of wear for each specimen. Wear rates are compared between specimens from early, middle and late periods and between island and coastal sites. The results of this study show that the rate of wear is extremely high for all groups, but decreases over time. No significant differences in wear rates are found between island and mainland populations. In addition, the lower dentitions show a higher rate of wear than their upper counterparts for all groups. The differences in these high rates of tooth wear are interpreted using the archaeological evidence for diet and craft activity.

This study was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, grant number F/07134CA.

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