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Re-evaluating the use of dental wear as a tool for estimating age at death in British archaeological skeletal remains

Re-evaluating the use of dental wear as a tool for estimating age at death in British archaeological skeletal remains
Re-evaluating the use of dental wear as a tool for estimating age at death in British archaeological skeletal remains
Dental wear is frequently used to estimate age at death in archaeological remains. However, the most widely cited dental wear ageing methods rely on underlying principles which have not been examined. Furthermore, the most widely cited method for estimating age concluded that a single dental wear chart could be applied to multiple British archaeological periods. This statement has never been validated. Thus, this thesis presents a re-evaluation of dental wear as a method for estimating age at death of archaeological remains.

Three key underlying principles were identified and tested for three dental wear ageing techniques. Dental wear was measured using an ordinal scale and continuous measurements, and dental wear rates calculated for well-documented samples dating from the British Neolithic to Post-Medieval periods. Dental wear was measured on the permanent molars of 861 individuals, aged from 6 years old to adults displaying high degrees of dental wear and ante-mortem tooth loss.

A review of dental wear rates revealed molars of the same type wear at a similar rate. The third molar showed a relatively slower wear rate compared to the first and second molars, although this difference was not great. This difference in wear rate between molar types remained constant throughout the life of the dentition, validating one of the key assumptions of dental wear ageing methods. These findings support the use of a single dental wear rate for all molars in methods of estimating age using dental wear.

The relationship between dental wear and age was confirmed across all temporal samples, supporting the continued use of dental wear as an ageing method for archaeological remains. A comparison of dental wear rates across temporal samples indicate a single wear rate may be used to estimate age in multiple archaeological populations. However, this thesis strongly recommends the development and use of population-specific wear rates to obtain the most reliable estimates of age.
University of Southampton
Field, Samantha, Jane
1438b021-834c-4edb-98f3-91ff8fea32e8
Field, Samantha, Jane
1438b021-834c-4edb-98f3-91ff8fea32e8
Zakrzewski, Sonia
d80afd94-feff-4fe8-96e9-f3db79bba99d
Mays, Simon
8027d396-ce90-43df-9baf-6013fcfaa69d

Field, Samantha, Jane (2019) Re-evaluating the use of dental wear as a tool for estimating age at death in British archaeological skeletal remains. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 419pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Dental wear is frequently used to estimate age at death in archaeological remains. However, the most widely cited dental wear ageing methods rely on underlying principles which have not been examined. Furthermore, the most widely cited method for estimating age concluded that a single dental wear chart could be applied to multiple British archaeological periods. This statement has never been validated. Thus, this thesis presents a re-evaluation of dental wear as a method for estimating age at death of archaeological remains.

Three key underlying principles were identified and tested for three dental wear ageing techniques. Dental wear was measured using an ordinal scale and continuous measurements, and dental wear rates calculated for well-documented samples dating from the British Neolithic to Post-Medieval periods. Dental wear was measured on the permanent molars of 861 individuals, aged from 6 years old to adults displaying high degrees of dental wear and ante-mortem tooth loss.

A review of dental wear rates revealed molars of the same type wear at a similar rate. The third molar showed a relatively slower wear rate compared to the first and second molars, although this difference was not great. This difference in wear rate between molar types remained constant throughout the life of the dentition, validating one of the key assumptions of dental wear ageing methods. These findings support the use of a single dental wear rate for all molars in methods of estimating age using dental wear.

The relationship between dental wear and age was confirmed across all temporal samples, supporting the continued use of dental wear as an ageing method for archaeological remains. A comparison of dental wear rates across temporal samples indicate a single wear rate may be used to estimate age in multiple archaeological populations. However, this thesis strongly recommends the development and use of population-specific wear rates to obtain the most reliable estimates of age.

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SField Thesis - Version of Record
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Appendix D Skeletal Material - Version of Record
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More information

Published date: September 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 437579
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/437579
PURE UUID: 15e995d2-4d5a-437a-ad95-96d1f97f88d2
ORCID for Sonia Zakrzewski: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1796-065X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Feb 2020 17:30
Last modified: 26 Oct 2023 01:42

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Contributors

Author: Samantha, Jane Field
Thesis advisor: Sonia Zakrzewski ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Simon Mays

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