Diet reconstruction in antebellum baltimore: Insights from dental microwear analysis

Peter H. Ma, Mark F. Teaford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Construction in the City of Baltimore during 1996 led to the recovery of human skeletal remains dating from 1792 to 1856. Historical research indicates that the skeletal remains come from two adjacent graveyards: Christ's Church Episcopalian Cemetery and the Potters Field East. The different socioeconomic status of the internees in each cemetery suggests the possibility of marked contrasts in lifestyle, health, and diet. To shed further light on these possibilities, analyses of microscopic wear patterns on teeth, or dental microwear analyses, were undertaken. A sample from Spanish Florida was used to help interpret the results. Epoxy casts of incisor and molar teeth were placed in an SEM and photomicrographs of clean wear facets were taken. The photomicrographs were digitized using the software package Microware 4.02. Statistical analyses of rank transformed data consisted of single-factor ANOVA, followed by post hoc tests. No significant differences were found between Christ's Church and Potters Field East samples for any of the variables examined in either molar or incisor teeth. However, differences between each Baltimore sample and the La Florida samples give suggestions of possible diet differences in antebellum Baltimore. The mosaic of differences between the Baltimore and La Florida samples probably reflects the wide variety of foods available to antebellum Baltimoreans as well as the relative lack of abrasives in their diet. Am J Phys Anthropol 141:571-582, 2010.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-582
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Homo sapiens
  • Incisor
  • Molar
  • Tooth wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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