Original paper

Reconstruction of dietary habits on the basis of dental microwear and trace elements analysis of individuals from Gan cemetery (district Galanta, Slovakia)

Tibenská, Kristína; DomonkośováBodoriková, Silvia; Katina, Stanislav; Kovácsová, Veronika; Kubová, Jana; Takács, Michal

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 68 No. 1 (2010), p. 67 - 84

published: Mar 1, 2010

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2010/0079

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ArtNo. ESP140006801007, Price: 29.00 €

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to determine the diet of a historical human population. Dental microwear and trace elements were analyzed. Although 38 individuals had been buried in the cemetery, only 13 of them were suitable for the analysis of trace elements and 17 skeletal remains for microwear analysis. Buccal microwear has been studied in a sample of 17 teeth from Gáaň cemetery. Teeth molds of the buccal surface were obtained and observed at l20× magnification with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Length and orientation of each striation have been determined with a SigmaScan Pro 5.0 image analysis program. The results of the analysis from Gáaň were compared with the previous study in a sample of 153 molar teeth from different modern hunter-gatherer, pastorals, and agriculturalist groups, with different diets (Inuit, Fueguians, Bushmen, Australian aborigines, Andaman's, Indians from Vancouver, Veddahs, Tasmanians, Lapps, and Hindus), preserved at museum collections. Buccal dental microwear density and length by orientation showed almost an inclination to hunter-gatherers from tropic and arid climates.The sample for the trace elements analysis consisted of 10 permanent molars and 3 permanent premolars. All analyzed teeth were intact, with fully developed roots, without dental caries, calculus and abrasion. Samples were analyzed using the method of optical emission spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma. Three elements: Ca, Sr, and Zn were chosen as basic diet determinants. Concentrations of these elements and their ratios were used for description of a relative proportion of plant and animal protein in a diet. The values of the Sr and Zn concentrations indicate that a diet of investigated population was rich in plant food. Higher Sr values in women can indicate lower proportion of animal protein in a diet, but significant differences have not been found. Differences between non-adult and adult individuals and between individuals with and without grave furnishings have also not been significant.

Keywords

paleodietdental microwearstrontiumzincdiagenesis