Are Teeth Better? Histological Characterization of Diagenesis in Archaeological Bone-Tooth Pairs and a Discussion of the Consequences for Archaeometric Sample Selection and Analyses

H.I. Hollund, N. Arts, M.M.E. Jans, H. Kars

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Teeth are often the preferred source material for isotopic and genetic assay involving ancient biomolecules. The assumption is that dental tissue preserves better due to its anatomically protected location, the enamel cap, and lower porosity compared to bone. However, this assumption has not been widely tested. Some similarities in diagenetic processes are to be expected due to similarities in structure and chemical composition of dentine and bone. This has led to the suggestion that bone can be used as an indicator of dental preservation, as a pre-screening technique in the selection of suitable samples for biomolecular studies. Thus, direct testing of the correlation between bone and tooth preservation and diagenesis is needed. This paper reports the results of the histological characterization of diagenetic alterations within 25 human femur-tooth pairs, from a Medieval to modern (AD 1850) cemetery in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The results showed that teeth do indeed preserve better overall, but not always, and that this was dependent on the main diagenetic factor(s) at the burial location. Furthermore, good correlations are found between the microstructural preservation of bone and teeth; similar processes of decay were observed within bone and teeth of the same individual. Overall, the study demonstrated that histological analysis of bone is useful for the identification of degradation processes that affect biomolecular preservation in skeletal material. In this way, sample selection and analytical strategies can be optimized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-911
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Volume25
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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cemetery
funeral
Netherlands
Diagenesis
Teeth
Sample Selection
Archaeological Bone
Testing
The Netherlands
Porosity
Alteration
Medieval Period
Femur
Degradation
Burial
Decay
Cemetery
Source Material
Chemical Composition
Enamel

Bibliographical note

PT: J; NR: 47; TC: 1; J9: INT J OSTEOARCHAEOL; PG: 11; GA: DB4AP; UT: WOS:000368455400011

Cite this

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title = "Are Teeth Better? Histological Characterization of Diagenesis in Archaeological Bone-Tooth Pairs and a Discussion of the Consequences for Archaeometric Sample Selection and Analyses",
abstract = "Teeth are often the preferred source material for isotopic and genetic assay involving ancient biomolecules. The assumption is that dental tissue preserves better due to its anatomically protected location, the enamel cap, and lower porosity compared to bone. However, this assumption has not been widely tested. Some similarities in diagenetic processes are to be expected due to similarities in structure and chemical composition of dentine and bone. This has led to the suggestion that bone can be used as an indicator of dental preservation, as a pre-screening technique in the selection of suitable samples for biomolecular studies. Thus, direct testing of the correlation between bone and tooth preservation and diagenesis is needed. This paper reports the results of the histological characterization of diagenetic alterations within 25 human femur-tooth pairs, from a Medieval to modern (AD 1850) cemetery in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The results showed that teeth do indeed preserve better overall, but not always, and that this was dependent on the main diagenetic factor(s) at the burial location. Furthermore, good correlations are found between the microstructural preservation of bone and teeth; similar processes of decay were observed within bone and teeth of the same individual. Overall, the study demonstrated that histological analysis of bone is useful for the identification of degradation processes that affect biomolecular preservation in skeletal material. In this way, sample selection and analytical strategies can be optimized.",
author = "H.I. Hollund and N. Arts and M.M.E. Jans and H. Kars",
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Are Teeth Better? Histological Characterization of Diagenesis in Archaeological Bone-Tooth Pairs and a Discussion of the Consequences for Archaeometric Sample Selection and Analyses. / Hollund, H.I.; Arts, N.; Jans, M.M.E.; Kars, H.

In: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Vol. 25, No. 6, 2015, p. 901-911.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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T1 - Are Teeth Better? Histological Characterization of Diagenesis in Archaeological Bone-Tooth Pairs and a Discussion of the Consequences for Archaeometric Sample Selection and Analyses

AU - Hollund, H.I.

AU - Arts, N.

AU - Jans, M.M.E.

AU - Kars, H.

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PY - 2015

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N2 - Teeth are often the preferred source material for isotopic and genetic assay involving ancient biomolecules. The assumption is that dental tissue preserves better due to its anatomically protected location, the enamel cap, and lower porosity compared to bone. However, this assumption has not been widely tested. Some similarities in diagenetic processes are to be expected due to similarities in structure and chemical composition of dentine and bone. This has led to the suggestion that bone can be used as an indicator of dental preservation, as a pre-screening technique in the selection of suitable samples for biomolecular studies. Thus, direct testing of the correlation between bone and tooth preservation and diagenesis is needed. This paper reports the results of the histological characterization of diagenetic alterations within 25 human femur-tooth pairs, from a Medieval to modern (AD 1850) cemetery in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The results showed that teeth do indeed preserve better overall, but not always, and that this was dependent on the main diagenetic factor(s) at the burial location. Furthermore, good correlations are found between the microstructural preservation of bone and teeth; similar processes of decay were observed within bone and teeth of the same individual. Overall, the study demonstrated that histological analysis of bone is useful for the identification of degradation processes that affect biomolecular preservation in skeletal material. In this way, sample selection and analytical strategies can be optimized.

AB - Teeth are often the preferred source material for isotopic and genetic assay involving ancient biomolecules. The assumption is that dental tissue preserves better due to its anatomically protected location, the enamel cap, and lower porosity compared to bone. However, this assumption has not been widely tested. Some similarities in diagenetic processes are to be expected due to similarities in structure and chemical composition of dentine and bone. This has led to the suggestion that bone can be used as an indicator of dental preservation, as a pre-screening technique in the selection of suitable samples for biomolecular studies. Thus, direct testing of the correlation between bone and tooth preservation and diagenesis is needed. This paper reports the results of the histological characterization of diagenetic alterations within 25 human femur-tooth pairs, from a Medieval to modern (AD 1850) cemetery in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The results showed that teeth do indeed preserve better overall, but not always, and that this was dependent on the main diagenetic factor(s) at the burial location. Furthermore, good correlations are found between the microstructural preservation of bone and teeth; similar processes of decay were observed within bone and teeth of the same individual. Overall, the study demonstrated that histological analysis of bone is useful for the identification of degradation processes that affect biomolecular preservation in skeletal material. In this way, sample selection and analytical strategies can be optimized.

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