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Life history from human teeth microstructure: Methods for the analysis of hydroxyapatite from tooth cementum

Author(s): Marija Edinborough ; Sarah Fearn ; Imre Lengyel ; Dusan Boric ; Kevan Edinborough

Year: 2017

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Life-history events such as pregnancies, skeletal trauma, and renal disease can be estimated from growth layers of tooth cementum. Cementum is a mineralized tissue surrounding root of each human tooth consist of an inorganic calcium phosphate mineral approximated by hydroxyapatite (HA) and collagen. Several parameters have an influence on the calcium metabolism and result in a lack of available calcium at the mineralization front of tooth cementum. The year of occurrence of certain life-history events can be precisely dated by hypo-mineralised cementum growth layers. On the basis of comparative study of HA from teeth derived from living humans (clinical patients) and Mesolithic-Neolithic inhabitants of the Danube Gorges (Serbia) this paper demonstrates the archaeological potential of HA research. We applied three methods for HA composition analysis: 1) fluorescence microscopy in order to detect presence of HA in the samples; 2) SEM-EDX analyses for elemental mapping; and 3) TOF-SIMS technique which enables localization of HA and identification of different CaP phases. We argue that the minimum number of possible pregnancies in females and other life history events as well as the accurate age of those events may have been revealed for the first time by this study.

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Life history from human teeth microstructure: Methods for the analysis of hydroxyapatite from tooth cementum. Marija Edinborough, Sarah Fearn, Imre Lengyel, Dusan Boric, Kevan Edinborough. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428896)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16128

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America