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But first, as always in this series, we’ll take a look at how teeth can be found during the excavation of archaeological sites.This post marks the final Skeletal Series post to deal explicitly with individual elements of the human skeletal system.The next few posts in the Skeletal Series will be aimed at detailing the methods used in aging and sexing elements in the adult and non-adult skeleton (and the success rates of the various methods), followed by posts introducing the pathological conditions that can be present on human skeletal remains.Excavation The 32 permanent human teeth, located in the upper arcade (maxilla) and lower arcade (mandible) of the jaws, each holding 16 teeth, are resilient to chemical and physical degradation.
The pulp chamber, in the centre of the diagram below, is the largest part of the pulp cavity at the crown end of the tooth. The root of the tooth is the part that anchors it into the dental alveolus tissue (sockets) of the jaw (either the maxilla or mandible).Above information taken from White & Folkens (2005: 130-131).As previously highlighted there are some directional terms that are specific to the dentition, but it is pertinent to repeat some of the key aspects here for clarification as tooth orientation is important – Apical: towards the root.Finally we have fissures, which are clefts between the occlusal surfaces between cusps.Fissures help divide the cusps into patterns and are helpful to know to help identity individual teeth (specifically the molars).
Dentin (sometimes termed dentine) is the tissue that forms the core of the tooth itself.