A method for studying human teeth excavated in archaeological sites: A focus on recent research sites

  • Pang Min-Kyu
Keywords: dental anthropology, Korean teeth, shovel-shaped incisor, distal trigonid crest, Carabelli’s traits


For anthropologists studying archaeological, fossil, and forensic remains in order to understand the biology of ancient human communities and follow the course of evolution, it is essential to identify an individual from their fragmentary remains, particularly teeth. Teeth are unique among the resistant anatomical parts of fossil skeletons having been exposed to various forces throughout the person’s life. Dental anthropology is also applied to living people, using many of the same techniques employed for analysing ancient remains. One primary theme of this discipline is to study variation in size and shape of the teeth, as recorded in casts of dentition from living people or evaluated in the skulls of archaeological and fossil specimens using metric measurements and observations of non-metric traits. Metric and non-metric data were compiled from published reports on archaeological sites in Korea and elsewhere. These data indicate that in contrast to all other ethnic groups, Koreans exhibit several non-metric traits in relatively high frequency. Interestingly, they have lower frequencies of Carabelli’s traits in comparison to Western Eurasians. Based on the distribution pattern of dental traits, Koreans possess lineages from a high proportion of northeast Asian populations as well as southern groups of north-eastern Asian populations.