A study of modified teeth from archaeological sites in Illinois: Recent and archival examples

Kristin M. Hedman, Julie A. Bukowski, Dawn E. Cobb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The intentional modification of dentition (unlike tattoos, scarification, piercings, hairstyles, and clothing) leaves tangible evidence of cultural behavior observable by bioarchaeologists. The meaning behind these modifications remains elusive, whether an enhancement of beauty, a mark of status or ethnicity, or of social or religious importance marking a rite of passage or of office. The majority of known culturally modified teeth in North America are from Mississippian sites located in the American Bottom region of Illinois near Cahokia, the preeminent Mississippian cultural center in eastern North America. A number of additional examples have recently been identified from current archaeological work and curated museum collections. Good temporal and contextual control for these teeth provides much needed new information on the frequency and geographical distribution of modified teeth in Illinois. This poster describes variations in style and considers the temporal and geographic distribution of modified teeth, as well as bioarchaeological evidence of age, sex, and status of the individuals. We compare examples from Illinois to those from Mexico and Central America, and consider the applicability of Romero’s (1970) classification system to Illinois/ North American examples. Do Illinois examples show stylistic preferences by region or by sex? Do the small number of culturally modified teeth found outside the American Bottom reflect social interactions between regions? This expanded dataset brings us one step closer to answering these questions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationpublished online 22 FEB 2011
ISBN (Print)0002-9483
StatePublished - 2011


  • ISAS

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A study of modified teeth from archaeological sites in Illinois: Recent and archival examples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this