Human Evolution

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 153–167 | Cite as

Dental anthropology and paleodemography of the precolumbian populations of hispaniola from the third millennium B.C. to the Spanish conquest

  • A. Coppa
  • A. Cucina
  • B. Chiarelli
  • F. Luna Calderon
  • D. Mancinelli


The demography and dental traits of the skeletal samples from the necropoles of Cueva Roja (IIrd millennium b.C.), El Soco (800 a.D) and Juan Dolio (1400 a.D.) have been analyzed. The preceramic sample from Cueva Roja consists of some 50 individuals, the one from El Soco consists of 158 individuals and the one from Juan Dolio of 108 individuals. The demographic analysis has revealed a slight improvement of life conditions from the pre-contact period to the beginning of the contact period. Dental metrical traits show a marked overlapping of the metrical data for the anterior teeth. A reduction can be noted for the posterior teeth, especially for the first molar, from the preceramic period to the later ceramic period. The analysis of nutritional stresses, through the study of dental enamel hypoplasias, reveals a high incidence of stress in the preceramic population. In the preceramic group, it peaks late in childhood (3.5—3.9 years of age) which could be caused by a delay in weaning. Instead the more recent groups (El Soco and Juan Dolio) show evidence of an earlier occurrence of hypoplasia. Both peak at 3.0–3.4 years of age. The frequencies of hypoplasias calculated by type of tooth are less in the Tainos groups than in the preceramic one. From of the data now available, we can suppose that an amelioration of life conditions occurred from the preceramic period to the later ceramic period. As regards the Tainos groups, a slight improvement in life conditions can be noted from the precontact period to the period immediately before the European colonization. The dental non-metric traits show a strong homogeneity within the Taino groups. However, the preceramic group shows more marked differences when compared to the others. This could be supposed to be due to a different demic background between the Tainos and the group from Cueva Roja.

Key words

Paleodemography Enamel Hypoplasia Odontometry Dental Non-metric Traits Caribbean Area Precontact Period 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Coppa
    • 1
  • A. Cucina
    • 2
  • B. Chiarelli
    • 3
  • F. Luna Calderon
    • 4
  • D. Mancinelli
    • 5
  1. 1.Dept of Animal Biology and AnthropologyUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomaItaly
  2. 2.Catholic University of RomeRomaItaly
  3. 3.University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  4. 4.Museo del Hombre DominicanoSanto DomingoDominican Republic
  5. 5.University of L'AquilaL'AquilaItaly

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