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Human dentition and the accompanying oral cavity is a dense source of biocultural information and has enjoyed a long history of anthropological fascination. Analyses have ranged from establishing biological affinity in archaeological communities via dental metric and non-metric traits, to larger evolutionary questions of morphology. However, dental tissues have seldom been analyzed for their social role within past societies. In the case of the Middle Ages, a wealth of historical documents and art historical motifs suggest the importance of oral hygiene to medieval people, and thus present an opportunity for archaeological insight into medieval ontological conceptions of oral healthcare. This presentation will focus on the data collected from the oral cavities from the late medieval (c. 1350-1500) cemetery community of Villamagna, Italy. Traditional bioarchaeological analyses on stress and weaning will be presented, and how it relates to rural medieval conceptions of childcare and the gendering of children. This will then be followed by biohistorical analyses relating to medieval conceptions of oral hygiene in order to demonstrate how the medieval mouth was biosocial orifice, capable of embodying social and moral cosmologies. Ultimately, this presentation seeks to expand the universe of discourse surrounding anthropological analyses of dental tissues and demonstrate the ways in which biological tissues could be dyadic and embody multiplicative meanings in past communities.
Ed Carriere and Dale Croes have been working with the U of Washington Burke Museum to replicate 2,000 year old waterlogged archaeological basketry found in the early 1960s from along the Snoqualmie River near Seattle. Ed Carriere learned old style split cedar limb/root clam basket making from his Great Grandmother, Julia Jacobs, who raised him. Ed’s goal has always been to go back as many generations in his family to master their work. As a wet site archaeologist specializing in ancient basketry on the Northwest Coast, Dale Croes works from the other direction, deep-time, statistically linking ancient basketry styles from throughout the region to the present. Dale had a brilliant idea while re-assessing the 2,000 year old basketry collection from the Snoqualmie River site, asking Ed to try replicating these baskets that statistically linked through 100 generations from this site through 1,200, 750, and 500 year old Salish Sea wet site basketry to his Great Grandmother’s old style in an approach we call Generationally-linked archaeology. Local Native weavers and anthropologists applaud this work and last summer they shared their work with the Indigenous Ainu on Hokkaido, Japan, and with archaeologist at the Wetland Archaeology Research Project (WARP) conference in Bradford, England.