Teeth used as a tool: Evidence of task-related dental modifications from an ancient cemetery at Saqqara, Egypt

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkResearch


    Human dentition is a valuable source of information regarding age, diet and health. The anterior dentition can also be used to perform task-specific activities that require the assistance of ‘a third hand’. This non-alimentary use of the teeth produces distinctive non-intentional modifications that could provide a unique insight into the cultural behaviour of past populations. Dental remains of 92 sub-adult and adult individuals from an Old Kingdom (OK) and Ptolemaic Period (PP) cemetery in Saqqara, Egypt, were examined for non-alimentary use of the anterior dentition. The visual study of the specimens revealed evidence of linear grooving, notching, enamel trauma (chipping), as well as occlusal and lingual surface attrition (LSAMAT) in both males and females. The identified dental modifications were studied in relation to habitual and occupational task-specific activities.
    Period14 Jun 2011
    Event title7th World Congress on Mummy Studies
    Event typeConference
    LocationUniversity of San Diego, United StatesShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational


    • Ancient Egypt
    • Saqqara
    • dental modifications