Dental Anthropology

Jomon Japan

Kara C. Hoover

I am interested in the concept of resilience as an interpretive frame for cultures that are experiencing potentially transformative change. I focus on how biological data contribute to the narrative of past population resilience across time. Specifically, I compare temporal patterns of developmental stress via longitudinal data for permanent odonto-skeletal markers that develop in childhood (e.g., dental enamel defects and dental fluctuating asymmetry) to data from the archaeological record. My research in Japan focused on prehistoric complex hunter-gatherer-fisher populations that emerged in the Jōmon period (14,000-300 BCE) and persisted into both the agricultural Yayoi Period (300 BCE-300 CE) and the later Okhotsk Period (600-1000 CE). My findings were that the rapid and disruptive climate change experienced by prehistoric populations may have disrupted subsistence economies but these disruptions did not significantly impact population health across time and space. I deploy resilience theory in my efforts to explain why hunting-gathering-fishing persisted so long after the introduction of wet rice agriculture to Japan and with so little impact on health. While some foragers took to farming and retained elements of their Jōmon period culture, others continued foraging and were not diminished and marginalized by agriculturalists but thrived alongside them via the maintenance of cultural autonomy.

Brian Hemphill

Coming soon...

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