A Global Classification System for Cultural Dental Modification: Created and Assessed

Author(s): A. Jay Van Der Reijden

Year: 2015


Culturally modified teeth are one of the few personal identity markers to survive into the archaeological record, have modern comparatives, and exist as a global deep-time behavior. Typology and description, however, have suffered from a multitude of, often misinterpreted, classification systems usually restricted to specialized geographical areas and local publication. With the high variation of designs, a lack of consistent codified definitions makes cohesive discussion frustratingly difficult: highlighting that a new, clear global classification system is overdue. Expanding on the frequently-used works of Romero (1958-1986), a renewed classification model is presented; supplying continuity between past and future work. It provides an integrated system synthesizing previously temporally and spatially scattered examples, located via the literature and online museum collections. Pursuing a logical structure, modifications are integrated by more precise, defined descriptions and clear drawings. Usability and successfulness were assessed via both standardized participant evaluations and examples held at the Natural History Museum, London; results adjusted and improved the classification. This classification system provides a functional tool for global comparisons, supplying a framework to discuss designs in clear, unified codes rather than confusing or imprecise descriptions while also removing the necessity to access scattered, rarely reprinted classifications.

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A Global Classification System for Cultural Dental Modification: Created and Assessed. A. Jay Van Der Reijden. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397565)

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