Sex Differences in Oral Pathologies at the Late Classic Maya Site of Xcambó, Yucatán

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Andrea Cucina
Vera Tiesler Blos
Thelma Sierra Sosa


The present study compares the frequency of oral pathologies—namely caries, antemortem tooth loss and periapical defects—between sexes in the Maya site of Xcambó, Yucatán, during the Late Classic Period (AD 600-900). There are marked differences in the occurrence of oral pathological conditions between the sexes in two of three major areas of the sites, despite evidence of archaeological and funerary homogeneity within the site. In these two compounds, females are significantly more affected by oral pathologies than males. In contrast, the third area of the site shows slightly higher frequencies in males, but with no significant sex difference. The results have been interpreted according to the site’s location, size and economic role within a larger trade network in the Yucatán peninsula. The higher frequency of oral pathologies in females is interpreted as the result of sex differences in dietary and behavioral patterns. Females likely had more maize in their diet and, because of their role in food preparation, may have ingested food more frequently during the day. At the same time, the lack of difference between sexes in the third area of the site contradicts the archaeological evidence of intrasite homogeneity, and it raises questions on the cultural complexity of this population.