Not of African Descent: Dental Modification among Indigenous Caribbean People from Canímar Abajo, Cuba
Rodríguez Suárez, Roberto
Roksandic, M., K. Alarie, R. Rodríguez Suárez, E. Huebner, and I. Roksandic. "Not of African Descent: Dental Modification among Indigenous Caribbean People from Canímar Abajo, Cuba. PLoS ONE 11(4) (2016): e0153536. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0153536.
Dental modifications in the Caribbean are considered to be an African practice introduced to the Caribbean archipelago by the influx of enslaved Africans during colonial times. Skeletal remains which exhibited dental modifications are by default considered to be Africans, African descendants, or post-contact indigenous people influenced by an African practice. Individual E-105 from the site of Canímar Abajo (Cuba), with a direct 14C AMS date of 990– 800 cal BC, provides the first unequivocal evidence of dental modifications in the Antilles prior to contact with Europeans in AD 1492. Central incisors showing evidence of significant crown reduction (loss of crown volume regardless of its etiology) were examined macroscopically and with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to determine if the observed alterations were due to deliberate modification or other (unintentional) factors considered: postmortem breakage, violent accidental breakage, non-dietary use of teeth, and wear caused by habitual or repeated actions. The pattern of crown reduction is consistent with deliberate dental modification of the type commonly encountered among African and African descendent communities in post-contact Caribbean archaeological assemblages. Six additional individuals show similar pattern of crown reduction of maxillary incisors with no analogous wear in corresponding mandibular dentition.