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Investigating the dentoalveolar complex in archaeological human skull specimens: Additional findings with large volume micro‐CT compared to standard methods


Gurr, Angela; Higgins, Denice; Henneberg, Maciej; Kumaratilake, Jaliya; O'Donnell, Matthew Brook; McKinnon, Meghan; Hall, Kelly A; Brook, Alan Henry (2023). Investigating the dentoalveolar complex in archaeological human skull specimens: Additional findings with large volume micro‐CT compared to standard methods. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 33(2):235-250.

Abstract

Archaeological investigation of the dentoalveolar complex in situ within a human skull requires detailed measurements using non‐invasive techniques. Standard macroscopic and radiographic methods have limitations but large volume micro‐computed tomography (LV micro‐CT) scanning has the potential to acquire data at high resolution in microns. In this study, archaeological specimens are analyzed using three‐dimensional data visualization software from LV micro‐CT scans with the aims of (1) determining whether LV micro‐CT can act as a single technique to provide detailed analysis of the dentoalveolar complex and (2) how findings from the LV micro‐CT technique compare with standard methods. These aims are explored by measuring a range of human skull specimens from a rare archaeological sample requiring non‐invasive methods, for multiple dental and alveolar bone health categories. The LV micro‐CT technique was the only method to provide a full range of detailed measurements across all categories studied. A combination of macroscopic and radiographic techniques covered a number of categories, but the use of multiple methods was more time consuming, did not provide the same level of accuracy, and did not include all measurements. There were high levels of reproducibility for intra‐operator scoring and good inter‐operator agreement from four operators with one operator whose results were outliers. As a further investigation of the potential of the LV micro‐CT technique, an additional individual, a fragile, fragmented skull of an infant was studied. This investigation confirms the value of LV micro‐CT scanning as a non‐invasive, accurate, single technique for the extensive analysis of the dentoalveolar complex within archaeological skulls, which also allows the relationship of different tissues to be studied in situ.

Abstract

Archaeological investigation of the dentoalveolar complex in situ within a human skull requires detailed measurements using non‐invasive techniques. Standard macroscopic and radiographic methods have limitations but large volume micro‐computed tomography (LV micro‐CT) scanning has the potential to acquire data at high resolution in microns. In this study, archaeological specimens are analyzed using three‐dimensional data visualization software from LV micro‐CT scans with the aims of (1) determining whether LV micro‐CT can act as a single technique to provide detailed analysis of the dentoalveolar complex and (2) how findings from the LV micro‐CT technique compare with standard methods. These aims are explored by measuring a range of human skull specimens from a rare archaeological sample requiring non‐invasive methods, for multiple dental and alveolar bone health categories. The LV micro‐CT technique was the only method to provide a full range of detailed measurements across all categories studied. A combination of macroscopic and radiographic techniques covered a number of categories, but the use of multiple methods was more time consuming, did not provide the same level of accuracy, and did not include all measurements. There were high levels of reproducibility for intra‐operator scoring and good inter‐operator agreement from four operators with one operator whose results were outliers. As a further investigation of the potential of the LV micro‐CT technique, an additional individual, a fragile, fragmented skull of an infant was studied. This investigation confirms the value of LV micro‐CT scanning as a non‐invasive, accurate, single technique for the extensive analysis of the dentoalveolar complex within archaeological skulls, which also allows the relationship of different tissues to be studied in situ.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Archeology (arts and humanities)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Anthropology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Archeology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Archeology, Anthropology, Archeology
Language:English
Date:1 March 2023
Deposited On:22 Nov 2023 15:52
Last Modified:29 Jun 2024 01:40
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1047-482X
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.3204
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)