Anthropologists have recognized that early agriculturalists experienced dietary and health issues as they transitioned from hunter-gathering. Yet many critical aspects of human health during this transition are not clearly understood. About 2500-1800 years ago, the Adena lived in the Ohio Valley at a time when Native Americans began to transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture. This project focuses on the dental health observed in 34 Adena skulls housed at the University of Kentucky. Specifically, compared with hunter-gatherer societies, increases in dental caries, calculus, abscesses, alveolar resorption, and enamel hypoplasias were expected. Although the Adena showed substantial tooth wear, the individuals typically had few hypoplasias, caries, or abscesses, but had moderate calculus. The increase in tooth wear may be linked to the Adena food processing techniques. Otherwise, the Adena dentition lacks the scope of dental problems observed in early Native American agriculturalists.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2012


Benjamin Z. Freed

Mentor Department Affiliation

Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

Department Name when Degree Awarded

Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work