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Particles of everyday life Past diet and living conditions as evidenced by micro- debris entrapped in human dental calculus: a case study from Medieval Leicester and surrounding

Radini, Anita (2016) Particles of everyday life Past diet and living conditions as evidenced by micro- debris entrapped in human dental calculus: a case study from Medieval Leicester and surrounding. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Dental calculus, or tartar, is commonly found on archaeological skeletons since its inorganic nature remains stable even after many thousands of years. Dental calculus has long been seen as a valuable source of information on the nutrition and dental hygiene of past populations. As calculus forms in the mouth food consumption has been the major focus of research conducted so far, looking almost exclusively at dietary remains entrapped in it. The current PhD approaches the human mouth as a ‘depositional environment’, in which solid microscopic debris of different origins can become entrapped in the dental calculus matrix during its formation. The overall potential of dental calculus as a reservoir of dietary and non-dietary debris, which can offer insights to the natural and anthropogenic environment, is explored. Populations from Medieval Leicester (St Michael’s and St Peter’s, Leicester, c. 1250-1450 AD) and its surroundings (Empingham, Rutland and Rothley, Leicestershire, c. 500-900 AD) were used as the study material. A wide range of microscopic remains of staple food crops were retrieved during analysis together with luxury foods, among others, as well as non-dietary debris, potentially from the indoor environment and craft activities, such as wool and plant fibers. Diachronic changes in their occurrence were detected between the Early and Later Medieval periods, often statistically significant, implying important shifts in life quality during Medieval times. The originality of this research and its contribution to the field lies in the fact that it demonstrates the potential of dental calculus microdebris at a population level. The results provide strong evidence regarding the archaeological value of human dental calculus in offering new insights not only into diet, but also into past environment and living conditions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Dr Anita Radini
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 07:46
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2017 07:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17602

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