A comparative analysis of the dental health of two middle woodland burial populations in the lower Illinois Valley
Schwalenberg, Megan Beth
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The Gibson and Ray sites are located in the lower Illinois Valley and dated to the Middle Woodland period, ca. 50 B.C. ? A.D. 400. Through the examination of 48 skeletons from these sites, this study compares the dental health between the two sites in terms of dental pathologies and their potential correlation to either site, sex, age-at-death, or all of these. Information on dental attrition, caries, abscesses, and other dental pathologies was collected from a pre-selected sample of 24 adults from each site, and estimation of sex and age-at-death were established with two age groups: young adults (20-35) and middle-to-old adults (35-50+). Results show that there is no difference between caries rates at the two sites but a slight difference between abscess rates at the two sites. A statistically significant difference (p<0.05) was found in abscess and caries rates between the young and middle-to-old adults, while no correlation was found between the sexes. These results suggest there was little to no dietary difference between the sites and that poor dental health was prevalent among middle-to-old adults. Since the individuals from both sites date to the Middle Woodland period, it would be expected to find comparable rates of dental pathologies between the two samples as a result of similar diets. This information provides insight into the dental health of the Middle Woodland people during the transition from hunting-and-gathering to horticulture in the lower Illinois Valley and a baseline that can be utilized by other researchers for comparison to later maize agriculturalists in the region.
Nutrition and dental health -- United States
Archaeology -- Methodology