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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Human remains are scarce in Australian archaeology, partly due to the nature of hunter-gatherer burials, as they are rarely found in concentrated numbers. These constraints have limited studies of diet, which have relied rather on the rich ethnographic and archaeological records. The relatively few direct observations of dental remains have emphasized the abrasive nature of the diet that caused a pattern of severe dental attrition, common in many hunter-gatherer groups. The results also point to variability between groups living in close proximity. To better understand the extent of dietary variation, we analysed the dental pathology and microwear features amongst two neighbouring groups of human remains in South Australia, examining the extent of heterogeneity within and between these populations. In doing so, we identified two potential confounders to analysis of diet from human dental remains: the nature of the sample itself and the extent of non-masticatory use of teeth.

Keywords: hunter-gatherers, abrasive diet, dental pathology, microwear, Australian Aboriginal people

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