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Title: Re-evaluating the use of dental wear as a tool for estimating age at death in British archaeological skeletal remains
Author: Field, Samantha Jane
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2019
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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.
Supervisor: Zakrzewski, Sonia ; Mays, Simon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available