Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Alexis O'Donnell

Second Advisor

Carolyn Freiwald

Third Advisor

Susan Pedigo

Relational Format



Caries are a common pathology in past and current populations, and because of the close interaction of dentition with diet, archaeologists are able to infer components of a population’s culture from pathology like caries (Lanfranco & Eggers, 2010). Most literature implies that women have higher rates of caries than men because of cultural practices and natural physiological differences which are thought to put women at an increased risk (Lukacs, 2008). Another established trend throughout literature is that caries prevalence tends to increase with age, regardless of sex (Hillson, 2008). We evaluated data from the East Smithfield (1348-1350 AD) and Saint Mary Graces (1350-1540 AD) cemeteries to examine whether differences in caries prevalence exist between the sexes and among age groups. We hypothesized that females would have a significantly higher prevalence of caries and that the rate of caries would increase within older age groups. We used Pearson’s χ²to conduct statistical analyses and found that overall there was not a significant difference in caries prevalence between males and females. In addition, the rate of caries was not found to increase within our populations with increasing age. We suggest that the reason for equal caries prevalence between the sexes is due to increased consumption of cariogenic foods by males (Mant & Roberts, 2015), and that the historical events preceding the Black Death influenced population susceptibility to oral pathology (DeWitte & Slavin, 2013). From our results, we highlight the importance of identifying exceptions from generalized trends.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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