Lauren Koutlias and Caroline Znachko
Myself and Caroline Znachko, Ph.D. students from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, have been collecting skeletal data from the Ernest Witte mortuary site. The site is an Archaic cemetery from east-central Texas and was utilized by a semi-sedentary indigenous group between 2,700 B.C.E. and 1,500 C.E. The Archaic period is known for increasing population and drastic climate change in Texas. This information, coupled with an analysis of the developmental timing of linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH), leads to a meaningful consideration of the impact of a changing environment on the life course of Middle and Late Archaic Texas hunter-gatherers. Out of 191 individuals analyzed, 40 were affected by LEH with more males affected than females overall. Age-at-formation analyses indicate a slightly earlier first age-at-onset of LEH for females than males and an earlier age-at-onset for young adults. These results provide further insight into populational patterns of the skeletal embodiment of early childhood stress in hunter-gatherers and can offer additional insight into health and stress patterns in the Texas Archaic.
We were invited to present this research by Marybeth Tomka at the TARL Renovations, Rehabilitation, Reorganization, and Research symposium at the 2018 Texas Archeological Society meeting and have recently offered a workshop through TARL to train students in dental pathology data collection. In the future, we plan to work with TARL to offer more workshops like this for students of all experiences completely free!
In addition, through this workshop, we identified two students with strong potential for future success in the field. These students are helping us to collect more LEH data from the Morhiss site and Crestmont site this summer. They will be collecting their own data and asking their own research questions as well and will be presenting posters at next year’s conferences on dental abscesses, caries, and their relation to LEH. Our aim is to ultimately yield research that helps with our understanding of the climate change and population increase that occurred during the Texas Archaic.
1981 Allens Creek: A study in the Cultural Prehistory of the Lower Brazos River Valley, Texas. Texas Archeological Survey Research Report NO. 61, The University of Texas at Austin.