n Journal for Semitics - Hidden messages from teeth of the past revealed; palaeodontology in the Holy Land

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1013-8471


To scholars who are concerned with biblical archaeology, the Late Bronze Age (LBA)-Early Iron Age (EIA) transition in the Southern Levant indicates the emergence of a new ethnicity. This would suggest an invasion of foreigners (i.e., Israelites) into the land of Canaan, in particular their settlement in the highlands surrounding Jerusalem. The settlement of the foreigners has long since raised the question whether it can be proven that the settlers were indeed Israelites. Variation in population would be explained by the existence of population differences in phenetic relationships, gene flow and genetic drift between different sites that are known to belong to this period (Ullinger et al. 2005:466). Various research models have been employed to validate the differences, if any. The utilisation of dental non-metrical traits is suggested to secure a scientific answer to prove or controvert this theory. This paper will highlight the morphological traits and precursors that teeth possess. It will also evaluate certain unswerving and/or anomalous morphological characteristics (traits) and the odontometrics of permanent teeth. This will suggest methods that can measure phenetic relationships between different communities, ethnic groups, nationalities and even racial physiognomies, as well as migratory trends. And lastly, the age at death of an individual can be determined from the development and/or extent of wear of their teeth.

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