Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (03): 501-513.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0057

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Human tooth and diet from a bioarcheological perspective

LEI Shuai(), GUO Yi()   

  1. School of Art and Archaeology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310028
  • Received:2021-02-02 Revised:2021-04-22 Online:2022-06-15 Published:2022-06-16
  • Contact: GUO Yi;


Diet plays an important role in the origin and evolution of human culture. As the main carrier of dietary information, teeth provide the possibility to reconstruct the dietary lineage of ancient human from different perspectives. As a direct reflection of human chewing behavior, dietary structure and living pattern, the physical anthropological analysis of oral diseases and microscopic traces on the surface of teeth is particularly important. The detection of trace elements and stable isotopes in teeth plays an immeasurable role in revealing the migration and flow of ancient human beings, the feeding behavior and nutritional status in different stages of life, and the origin and development of agriculture. In this paper, based on the review of the importance of human teeth unearthed from archaeological sites and the diversity of research methods, combined with the characteristics of tooth growth and development, we draw the human age map of the dentin growth sequence matched by different dentin positions. Based on this map, we proposed a new method of dentin continuous section sampling. This paper proposes that from the angle of physical anthropology and stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen, using continuous sections of dentin, limb bones, ribs and other human tissues as related materials, on the basis of exploring the individual life history of ancient human beings, the research of “intergenerational archaeology” is prospected.

Key words: Tooth, Stable isotope analysis, Food structure recovery, Intergenerational archaeological

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