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

February 25, 2016 by Sandy Fleming, University of Kent
A picture of medieval milk teeth. Credit: University of Kent

A new way of examining the teeth of children who lived between the 11th and 15th centuries without damaging them has been discovered.

Biological anthropologists have discovered a new way of examining the fragile teeth of who 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 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 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.

Explore further: Dental discovery to benefit forensic practitioners and anthropologists

More information: Patrick Mahoney et al, Deciduous enamel 3D microwear texture analysis as an indicator of childhood diet in medieval Canterbury, England, Journal of Archaeological Science (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2016.01.007

Related Stories

Predicting human evolution: Teeth tell the story

February 24, 2016

Monash University-led research has shown that the evolution of human teeth is much simpler than previously thought, and that we can predict the sizes of teeth missing from human fossils and those of our extinct close relatives ...

Recommended for you

Light-based production of drug-discovery molecules

February 18, 2019

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells are widely studied for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels. They use photocathodes and photoanodes to "split" water into hydrogen and oxygen respectively. PEC cells can work ...

Solid-state catalysis: Fluctuations clear the way

February 18, 2019

The use of efficient catalytic agents is what makes many technical procedures feasible in the first place. Indeed, synthesis of more than 80 percent of the products generated in the chemical industry requires the input of ...

Engineered metasurfaces reflect waves in unusual directions

February 18, 2019

In our daily lives, we can find many examples of manipulation of reflected waves, such as mirrors, or reflective surfaces for sound that improve auditorium acoustics. When a wave impinges on a reflective surface with a certain ...

Design principles for peroxidase-mimicking nanozymes

February 18, 2019

Nanozymes, enzyme-like catalytic nanomaterials, are considered to be the next generation of enzyme mimics because they not only overcome natural enzymes' intrinsic limitations, but also possess unique properties in comparison ...

Sound waves let quantum systems 'talk' to one another

February 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have invented an innovative way for different types of quantum technology to "talk" to each other using sound. The study, published Feb. 11 in Nature ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.