This contribution demonstrates how dental pathology analysis can be used to document differences in dental health that likely stem from social stratification. The case study is based on a sample of human remains from Tepe Hissar, Iran. Reflecting the overall theme of this volume, the primary emphasis of this study is to explore how dental disease prevalence based on individual counts, coupled with a new method for assessment of pervasiveness controlled for subsequent proliferation after initial insult among individuals, yields greater insight into intra-populational differences in dietary behavior.
Advances in applying analytical chemistry to archaeologically derived skeletal material has led to an upswing in studies that employ carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis of bone collagen to determine whether differences in dietary behavior may be found within ancient populations. These studies often couple sex identification with the artifacts associated with individuals to determine if dietary differences correspond to assumed differences in wealth status (Ambrose et al., 2003; Dürrwächter et al, 2006; Jay and Richard, 2006; Le Huray and Schutkowsky, 2005; Murray and Schoeninger, 1988; Ubelaker et al, 1995).
While such studies provide a powerful tool for assessing the impact of social divisions in past populations, it is sometimes impossible to perform destructive analyses. In such cases, alternative procedures to determine whether elites suffered less from disease (Hatch and Geidel, 1983; Robb et al., 2001; Storey, 1998), or enjoyed longer lives have been employed (Cook, 1981; Šlaus, 2000; Storey, 1998; Sullivan, 2004).