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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

LINEAR ENAMEL HYPOPLASIA IN ROMAN IERAPETRA

Abstract

This study focuses on the prevalence of linear enamel hypoplasia in a sample of teeth from the Roman site of Ierapetra in southeast Crete. Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) is a dental defect that can be caused by childhood physiological stress like malnutrition or illness. It can be observed macroscopically as a horizontal line across the tooth where the enamel stopped growing and then started growing again later after the period of stress had ended. The presence of linear enamel hypoplasia was recorded by tooth rather than by individual, because some of the remains were commingled and in poor condition, which made it impossible to say for certain how many individuals were present, and which teeth belonged to which individual. Out of 858 total teeth, 805 could be assessed for linear enamel hypoplasia. Out of the 805, 73 were found to have the dental defect, or 9.1%. Using chi-square tests, it was found that there was a significant difference between the frequencies of LEH between Ierapetra and two Hellenistic sites, Agios Nikoloas and Chania, both also on Crete. Agios Nikolaos had a much higher rate of LEH that Ierapetra, while Chania had a much lower rate. Two other Roman sites, Paphos and Kourion, on the island of Cyprus, were not significantly different when compared to Ierapetra. A Proto-Byzantine site, Eleutherna, on Crete, also did not have a significant difference in the amount of LEH in the population compared to Ierapetra. Mediterranean island populations in the Roman period seem to have consistent levels of childhood stress from the common numbers of LEH that have been found, while Hellenistic sites appear to be more variable.

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