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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: 17 September 2021

Intentional or Not?

Intentional or Not?

Characterization and Reassessment of Proposed Intentional Dental Modification Cases in the Present-Day Southwestern United States

(p.250) 16 Intentional or Not?
A World View of Bioculturally Modified Teeth

Scott E. Burnett

University Press of Florida

The Southwest United States is one of the few North American regions north of Mexico where prehistoric intentional dental modification has been identified. The practice may 1) result from diffusion from further south, 2) represent the presence of Mesoamericans in the Southwest U.S., or 3) have an independent, local origin. However, these interpretations depend on correct identification of intentional dental modification, which may be difficult in practice. The purpose of this chapter is to characterize and reassess 14 proposed cases using a single set of criteria for distinguishing between intentional and unintentional dental modification. The dentitions exhibit considerable variation in appearance and many bear characteristics suggestive of incidental chipping or occupational wear. As a practice rife with cultural implications, this exercise underscores the attention needed on the criteria on which intentionality is interpreted, particularly in regions with few cases of dental modification and no historic record of the practice.

Keywords:   Southwest United States, Mesoamericans, intentional dental modification, unintentional dental modification

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