Temporal variation in dental pathology of native populations from northern Spanish Florida
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The purpose of this thesis is to analyze temporal variation in dental pathology of the native Guale Indian population from Spanish Florida. The sample is divided into four periods: preagricultura 1 precontact (1000 B.C.-A.D. 1150), agricultural precontact (A.D. 1150-1565), early contact (A.D. 1565 — 1680), and late contact (A.D. 1686 — 1702). This thesis reports on frequency, size, and location of carious lesions. Dental caries is complex in that a large number of factors are known to influence the disease process. These factors include: the consumption of cariogenic foods, food preparation technology, food consistency, crown morphology, and tooth wear. Many studies of archaeological populations have shown that dental caries is highly correlated with the amount and type of carbohydrates in a population s diet. Populations consuming a larger amount of carbohydrates have relatively greater frequencies of carious lesions than populations ingesting fewer carbohydrates. Many studies have compared the frequency of dental caries between preagricultural and agricultural populations. It has already been established that the greatest increase in dental caries among the Guale population on the Georgia coast occurred with the shift to an agricultural lifeway, during the 12th century A.D. According to ethnographic accounts, the arrival of the Europeans occasioned an increase in maize consumption, but not necessarily an increase in the frequency of carious lesions. By the late contact period, there was a large increase in the frequency of carious lesions. Despite the fact that dental caries is an indicator of diet and overall health, the results presented, especially regarding the early and late contact periods, are not clear cut. The ethnographic information on the Spanish mission period in Southeast suggests a decline in lifeway and overall health of the native population, while most of the previous biocultural studies indicate a rebound in health and quality of life during the early contact period. The results of this study are discussed in their biocultural, archaeological and ethnohistorical contexts and applied to the larger picture of changing lifeways with the advent of maize and Spanish contact.