Rebecca Whiting

Human behaviour and adaptation during a period of cultural, social and environmental change: the dental anthropology of the inhabitants of the 4th Cataract, Sudan

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council

A study of human behaviour and adaptation through dental anthropology, during a period of cultural, social and environmental change.

Start Date: October 2014
End Date: October 2017
Theme: Food, drink and cuisine
Research discipline: Anthropology
Locations: Africa
Staff member: Daniel Antoine
Department: Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan
University and department: Institute of Archaeology, University College London
University supervisor: Professor Simon Hillson

What information can dental pathology and wear give us?

Studies show that dental pathology and variations in dental wear can suggest changes in diet, climate, culture and society between populations.

Has food processing strategy changed during this period?

Archaeological records suggest an intensification in food production over time, through the introduction of new technology, such as the water wheel.

Why is a digital recording method suitable for this study?

This recording method leads to objective data collection and could be used to analyse how human behaviour has an impact on the patter of oral health.

About my research

This project will focus on populations from the 4th Cataract on the Nile in Sudan, using sites spanning the Neolithic, Kerma, Meroitic, Post-Meroitic and Christian eras.

Through the analysis of dental anthropology we hope to learn more about these populations and the physical changes seen over time, within the 4th Cataract area and how this contrasts to sites from outside this area. This research will use established techniques as well as relatively new digital techniques for data collection.

Aims of my research

This research aims to discover if there are differences in the occurrence of dental pathology as well as the rate and patterns of tooth wear between populations.

We intend to compare these changes over time, geographical location and ecological niche as well as between individuals of a different status within societies. Furthermore do these changes coincide with variations in climate, diet, food preparation or cultural behaviour, which can be inferred from the archaeological record?