Deciduous Enamel 3D Microwear Texture Analysis as an Indicator of Childhood Diet in Medieval Canterbury



Mahoney P, Schmidt C, Deter C, Remy A, Slavin P, Johns SE, Miszkiewicz JJ & Nystrom P (2016) Deciduous Enamel 3D Microwear Texture Analysis as an Indicator of Childhood Diet in Medieval Canterbury. Journal of Archaeological Science, 66, pp. 128-136.

This study conducted the first three dimensional microwear texture analysis of human deciduous teeth to reconstruct the physical properties of medieval childhood diet (age 1-8yrs) at St Gregory's Priory and Cemetery (11th to 16th century AD) in Canterbury, England. Occlusal texture complexity surfaces of maxillary molars from juvenile skeletons (n = 44) were examined to assess dietary hardness. Anisotropy values were calculated to reconstruct dietary toughness, as well as jaw movements during chewing. Evidence of weaning was sought, and variation in the physical properties of food was assessed against age and socio-economic status. Results indicate that weaning had already commenced in the youngest children. Diet became tougher from four years of age, and harder from age six. Variation in microwear texture surfaces was related to historical textual evidence that refers to lifestyle developments for these age groups. Diet did not vary with socio-economic status, which differs to previously reported patterns for adults. We conclude, microwear texture analyses can provide a non-destructive tool for revealing subtle aspects of childhood diet in the past.

dental microwear; medieval childhood diet;

Journal of Archaeological Science: Volume 66

FundersThe British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust
Publication date29/02/2016
Publication date online18/01/2016
Date accepted by journal06/01/2016

People (1)


Professor Philip Slavin

Professor Philip Slavin

Professor, History