INTRODUCTIONHistorically Australian Aboriginal people are characterized as experiencing severe and rapid dental wear often seen as characteristic of hunter–gatherer populations more generally (Barrett, ; Campbell & Barrett, ). Further work has identified regional differences in the rate and patterning of wear between different groups (Littleton, Scott, McFarlane, & Walshe, ; Molnar, Richards, McKee, & Molnar, ; Richards, ). However, the focus on wear has meant that there has been little analysis of dental pathology either in terms of its relationship to wear or in relation to regional patterning. Yet, it is the complexes of dentoalveolar conditions that are informative of patterns of food consumption, environmental exploitation, and hygiene practices (Lukacs, ).Commonly, it has been assumed that historic studies of Aboriginal people prior to and soon after sustained contact with Europeans are reflective of conditions in prehistory. To what extent is that correct and how much intra‐ and interpopulation variability has been overlooked as a consequence? Most of the historic observations are from arid or northern regions of Australia. Certainly Europeans were struck by the combination of generally very “perfect and beautiful teeth” (Eyre, , p. 205) and the extensive wear of older people (Angas, ; Taplin, ). Systematic observations,
American Journal of Human Biology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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