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3-D technology used to safely reveal the diet of 'Chaucer's children'

Date:
February 25, 2016
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
Biological anthropologists have discovered a new way of examining the fragile teeth of children who lived between the 11th and 15th centuries without damaging them. By using 3-D microscopic imaging, researchers have been able to safely reconstruct the diet of children who would have lived next door to Canterbury Cathedral when Chaucer was writing his famous Tales.
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This is a picture of medieval milk teeth.
Credit: University of Kent

Biological anthropologists have discovered a new way of examining the fragile teeth of children who lived between the 11th and 15th centuries without damaging them.

By using 3D microscopic imaging, researchers from the universities of Kent (UK) and Indianapolis (USA) have been able to safely reconstruct the diet of children who would have lived next door to Canterbury Cathedral when Chaucer was writing his famous Tales.

The 3D technology -- known as dental microwear texture analysis -- involved measuring microscopic changes in the surface topography of the teeth.This is the first time that this technology has been applied to children's teeth.

By using this technology Kent's Dr Patrick Mahoney, biological anthropologist, (School of Anthropology and Conservation), and colleagues, who included a historian, were able to learn more about how diet varied among children from poor and wealthy families in medieval Canterbury. Dietary reconstructions from ancient teeth are often destructive, but this technology offers a new way to access this information without damaging fragile teeth.

Dr Mahoney is a leading expert on dental development of modern human children. He expects that applications of this technique will pioneer a new era in anthropological studies, opening up the dietary secrets of ancient children, and our fossil ancestors.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Kent. Original written by Sandy Fleming. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Patrick Mahoney, Christopher W. Schmidt, Chris Deter, Ashley Remy, Philip Slavin, Sarah E. Johns, Justyna J. Miszkiewicz, Pia Nystrom. Deciduous enamel 3D microwear texture analysis as an indicator of childhood diet in medieval Canterbury, England. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2016; 66: 128 DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2016.01.007

Cite This Page:

University of Kent. "3-D technology used to safely reveal the diet of 'Chaucer's children'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160225140248.htm>.
University of Kent. (2016, February 25). 3-D technology used to safely reveal the diet of 'Chaucer's children'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 25, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160225140248.htm
University of Kent. "3-D technology used to safely reveal the diet of 'Chaucer's children'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160225140248.htm (accessed September 25, 2016).