Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Anthropology

Advisor

Jerome C. Rose

Committee Member

Robert C. Mainfort

Second Committee Member

Joseph M. Plavcan

Abstract

Current archaeological knowledge suggests that, by the Late Mississippian period, inhabitants of the southeastern United States had adopted maize agriculture and that maize was a key component of the normal diet. However, in some regions where wild food resources were easily attainable, there is evidence that the transition to agriculture was delayed or did not occur at all. This thesis examines Late Mississippian skeletal collections from two sites in eastern Arkansas, Ables Creek and Upper Nodena. Analysis of differences in interproximal tooth wear facet size and caries rates between the two populations reveals that the diets at these roughly contemporary sites were markedly different. The data collected and presented in this thesis reveals that the Ables Creek skeletal sample has significantly larger interproximal wear facets and dramatically lower caries rates than the Upper Nodena skeletal sample. This thesis discusses the possible cultural and ecological factors that could have led to this dietary difference. Additionally, this thesis introduces and assesses a new method for quantifying interproximal wear facet size.

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