Reconstruction of dietary habits in the Early Bronze Age of Anatolia through the analysis of dental caries and wear


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OSTEOARCHAEOLOGY, vol.31, no.5, pp.902-915, 2021 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/oa.3007
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Periodicals Index Online, Anthropological Literature
  • Page Numbers: pp.902-915
  • Keywords: bioarcheology, dental anthropology, dental pathology, paleodiet, prehistory, Turkey, OCCLUSAL WEAR, 3RD-MILLENNIUM BC, HUNTER-GATHERERS, TOOTH WEAR, AGRICULTURE, POPULATIONS, FREQUENCY, PATHOLOGY, HEALTH, SITE
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Studies have shown that there is a direct and strong relationship between dental pathology, dietary habits, and subsistence economies. Dental caries, the most frequently used bioanthropological data source for determining the dietary habits of past people, provides considerable information about the types of foods predominantly consumed. On the other hand, analyzing dental wear provides an insight into food preparation techniques. In this study, the dental caries and wear on the dentition of individuals from Ikiztepe, Bakla Tepe, and Titris Hoyuk, dated to the Late Chalcolithic (3500-3000 bc) and the Early Bronze Age (3100-2000 bc), were analyzed to examine potential differences in their dietary habits. The highest caries frequency was observed at Bakla Tepe (10%), followed by Ikiztepe with 6.8% and then Titris Hoyuk with 4.2%. Stable isotope analyses previously carried out on the same populations suggest a homogenous, predominantly terrestrial C-3-based mixed diet. However, statistically significant differences in caries frequencies and caries surface and depth scores suggest that there are interpopulation differences regarding the amount of carbohydrate and protein in their diet. The dental wear of all populations can be considered as slight, which indicates the consumption of well-processed, soft, and fine-grained foods. However, Ikiztepe, with the highest mean value of dental wear (x over bar : 3.14), is an exception within the sample populations (Bakla Tepe: 2.93; Titris Hoyuk: 2.85) examined in this study. Differences in the economic and ecological characteristics of these settlements were effective in explaining the differences observed in dental caries and wear. Although C-3-based foods were common for all of the populations, the relative amount they were consumed is likely different for each sample population, suggesting heterogeneity within and between populations with regard to consumed resources.