BERNAL Valeria
The development of dental research in Argentinean biological anthropology: Current state and future perspectives
HOMO Journal of Comparative Human Biology
Año: 2011 vol. 62 p. 315 - 327
The aim of this paper is to conduct a historical analysis of the research-oriented studies related to dental anthropology in Argentina, evaluate its current state and discuss future expectations and perspectives. In this country, anthropological studies based on analysis of dentition have been scarce and even temporarily discontinued, since they began in the late nineteenth century, simply following the course of the predominant theoretical and methodological approaches over time. Early papers, guided mainly by evolutionary ideas, were oriented towards establishing the taxonomic position of humans through the description and comparison of morphological and morphometric aspects of the dental crown and root. Later studies mainly described types of intentional modifications (i.e. dental mutilations) and tooth wear in the context of Historic-Cultural School. However, they failed to constitute valid lines of research over time. In recent years, there has been a significant change in dental studies, mainly as a result of the interest in evaluating the adaptive aspects of human populations within biocultural settings. One of the most relevant lines of studies has been the bioarchaeological analysis of health and stress indicators, such as enamel hypoplasia, caries and tooth wear in hunter–gatherer and farmer societies. More recently, the study of discrete and metric dental traits began, with a goal to contribute to the study of evolution and inter-populational biological relations among South American groups. Since teeth contain valuable information not only about the environment in which the individual lived, but also about the action of neutral and non-neutral factors on human groups, the consolidation of ongoing studies will contribute to knowledge of various aspects of the adaptation and evolution of native American populations.