An odontological analysis of 18th and 19th century burial sites from in and around Cape Town

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The development of the city of Cape Town in the last 20 years has led to the discovery of burial sites 110t sufficiently documented in the city's archival records. Human remains under study were recovered from three different locations namely Cobern Street (11=28) mid 18th century; Marina Residence (11=40) and Polyoak (11=9) both late 18th to early 19th century. The aim of this study is to investigate oral hygiene; dental pathologies; behaviour; lifestyle aspects and geographic origins as seen on the dentition using standard osteoscopic methods. Calculus deposition which is an indicator of poor oral hygiene was found in 98.7% of the individuals. Pathologies such as caries at 4.3, abscesses at 2.5 and teeth lost antemortem at 8.8 per mouth, the Cape Poor were found to be similar to 18th century poor communities. The evidence points more towards a difference in oral hygiene practices but similar diets between the three communities. The seemingly shared social class does not, at least in the earlier times of the colony, mask the diverse cultural heritage as evidenced in the dental behaviour through intentional, unintentional dental modification as well as habitual dental markers.

Includes abstract.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 138-157).