Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Prowse, Tracy


This study utilizes occlusal dental microwear analysis to investigate dietary texture in a sample of Archaic period (~10,000-3,000 B.P.) and Woodland period (~3,000-950 B.P.) Native American human remains from the Carrier Mills Archaeological District (Saline County, Illinois). Molar teeth from thirty individuals were examined in a scanning electron microscope at 500x, and the number of pits and scratches were quantified. Four variables were analyzed: number of pits, number of scratches, total number of features, and the pit/scratch ratio. These four variables were used to compare differences in dietary texture between Archaic and Woodland periods, between males and females (both combined and by time period), and between those individuals who were diagnosed as having a treponemal disease and those who were not. The results indicate that there were no differences in dietary texture between the Archaic and Woodland periods. This suggests that even with the introduction of new food preparation technology (i.e. pottery) during the Woodland period, the basic texture of the food remained the same over a long period of time. In addition, no significant differences were found between diseased and non-diseased individuals at the Carrier Mills Archaeological District, suggesting that the texture of foods consumed by these two groups did not differ. Males and females, however, did show a difference in dietary texture. Females had higher values than males for all variables examined, although only number of pits and total number of features were significantly different. These results indicate that males and females had differently textured diets. I interpret this difference in the context of sex-based differences in subsistence-related activities, especially the role that females play in the acquisition and preparation of foods. When compared to previous microwear studies, these results suggest that the Carrier Mills Archaeological District differs from other Midwestern Archaic and Woodland sites due to the lack in dietary texture changes between the Archaic and Woodland periods.




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