Article

Prehistoric Dental Modification in West Africa - Early Evidence from Karkarichinkat Nord, Mali

Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University, OX1 3QY, Oxford, UK
International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (Impact Factor: 0.95). 11/2008; 18(6). DOI: 10.1002/oa.957

ABSTRACT

This paper reports the earliest securely dated evidence for intentional dental modification in West Africa. Human remains representing 11 individuals were recovered from the sites of Karkarichikat Nord (KN05) and Karkarichinkat Sud (KS05) in the lower Tilemsi Valley of eastern Mali. The modified anterior maxillary dentitions of four individuals were recovered from KN05. The dental modification involved the removal of the mesial and distal angles of the incisor, as well as the mesial angles of the canines. The modifications did not result from task-specific wear or trauma, but appear instead to have been produced for aesthetic purposes. All of the filed teeth belonged to probable females, suggesting the possibility of sex-specific cultural modification. Radiocarbon dates from the site indicate that the remains pertain to the Late Stone Age (ca. 4500–4200 BP). Dental modification has not previously been reported from this region of West Africa and our findings indicate that the practice was more widespread during prehistory.

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    • "This suggested that there were differences in cultural practices amongst the Jomon and group membership would have been evident from the appearance of the anterior dentition (Kusaka et al., 2011). Other research has focused on the cultural transmission of the practice over time (Hrdli cka, 1940; Cook, 1981; Pietrusewsky and Douglas, 1993; Kangxin and Nakahashi, 1996; Tayles, 1996; Alt and Pichler, 1998; Hadjouis, 2002; Bonfiglioli et al., 2004; Finucane et al., 2008; Humphrey and Bocaege, 2008; Mower, 2009; Stojanowski et al., 2014). A recent paper by Stojanowski et al. (2014) looked at the chronological and geographical distribution of evulsion patterns across north and central Africa during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. "

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    • "Dental modification, also known as dental art or dental decoration, was practiced in many parts of the world including Africa, Oceania, East Asia and the Americas (see Milner & Larsen, 1991 for a review). The earliest securely dated occurrence of intentional dental modification has been recorded in Africa and dates back to around 4500 years BP (Finucane et al., 2008). "
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