W7 Archaeology in the News

Out of all the Archaeology in the News Blogs that I have done this semester, my favorite one is a story that I found in the New York Times called “Old Teeth Tell New Stories About People Who Didn’t Get Enough Sun” by Joanna Klein.

The original reason that I picked this story is because my mother is a dentist, and I learned a lot about teeth and hygiene growing up. My mother would tell me how certain substances such as tobacco can affect people’s teeth. I did not, however, know that vitamin D deficiency can also leave a permanent record on a person’s teeth.

I found it very interesting how we can determine some of the diseases that those particular individuals faced while they were alive just by looking at their teeth. I feel that this is very important in archaeology because we now know challenges faced at that time, how these people lived their lives, what kind of environment they lived in, and much more. Some of these diseases that we can learn about from their teeth are diet related as well.

After I found this article, I told my mom about it and she was able to talk to me about other diseases commonly discovered through looking at teeth. I liked this article because it was a conversation starter and it can help archaeologists learn a lot.

2 thoughts on “W7 Archaeology in the News

  1. Rhea, this sounds like a very unique article just by the title. That is great to have picked the article out of interest due to your mother being a dentist, and shows how important our past experiences are to our current interests. I am aware that vitamin D deficiency can have many destructive effects to our health, but I would not have connected that with negative effects on our teeth, or that we could see this effect in the deceased all these years later. This could most certainly tell us a lot about the environment that these people lived in at their time and what their daily lives were like.

  2. Rhea, I did not read about this article that you talk about, but I am going to now. I had read an article about the dental calculus that is being taken from skeletal remains. Dental calculus is the calcified form of dental plaque. Archaeologists and scientists are able to scrape off small samples from remains and use this to research the DNA of these past cultures. This procedure is much more efficient than taking a sample from the actual bone because the sample is much more smaller when compared in size. Also another benefit to taking dental plaque is it does not damage the remains. This could prevent conflict with present day cultures that believe any disturbance of the bones could cause negative affects on those souls.

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