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A World View of Bioculturally Modified Teeth$
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Scott E. Burnett and Joel D. Irish

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054834

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054834.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 31 July 2021

Identity Marker or Medicinal Treatment?

Identity Marker or Medicinal Treatment?

An Exploration of the Practice and Purpose of Dental Ablation in Ancient Nubia

Chapter:
(p.48) 4 Identity Marker or Medicinal Treatment?
Source:
A World View of Bioculturally Modified Teeth
Author(s):

Katelyn L. Bolhofner

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813054834.003.0004

Dental ablation has a long history in Sudan, though its implementation and significance appear to vary through time. This chapter suggests that the social correlates of ablation are often prioritized in study, resulting in neglect of consideration of biological implications. Ablation is portrayed as a male rite of passage in the Neolithic and in modern ethnographic and clinical literature; however, this pattern is not found in Meroitic to Christian period samples. This chapter discusses the presence and patterning of ablation in Meroitic individuals from the Second Cataract Semna South site. The results presented here suggest ablation may have been a form of medicinal practice in this period, possibly in prevention and treatment of febrile illness and lockjaw. The study demonstrates that both the social and biological significance of ablation should be investigated as temporally fluid, elucidating the evolving function of cultural practices.

Keywords:   dental ablation, medicinal practice, Meroitic Nubia, Semna South, Sudan

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