The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

The co-association of hypoplastic enamel defects, carious lesions, and non- specific stress in subadults from pre-Columbian Tennessee


Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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The health contexts of the subadults from the Late Archaic and Late Mississippian periods provide the interpretive context for the occurrence of deciduous hypoplastic enamel defects (HED). The subadults which possessed deciduous dentition (skeletally <7 years of age) from 7 sites (N=386) from the agriculture-intensive late Mississippian (AD 1300-1550) period of East Tennessee were compared to the same skeletal age cohort from 5 sites (N=111) which reflected a hunter-gatherer subsistence economy and dated to the Late Archaic (2500-100 BC) period of west-central Tennessee. Analysis of the data focused on comparing and contrasting health status indicators (growth stunting, cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, LEH, and periostitis) with HED between samples of subadults which differ in subsistence and settlement pattern. The prevalence of HED and other pathologies between temporal groups by age cohort (infant [0-2 years], child [2-5 years] juvenile [5-7 years]) were unexpectedly not statistically significant. Indeed, it appears that the Late Mississippian pattern of HED is a more exaggerated version of the pattern observed in the Late Archaic. Additionally, the results of the statistical analyses indicate some significant trends between the Late Archaic and Late Mississippian subadult samples. For example, for the subset of cases which had dental, cranial and long bone data, very statistically significant co-associations were found for carious lesions and non-specific infection (p=0.0100) and with HED.

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