LEHs in Medieval Scandinavia: Preliminary Analysis

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Christine L. Hanson
Hasmin S. Miller


The development of enamel defects is a topic of considerable interest among skeletal biologists. Linear enamel hypoplasias (LEHs) are commonly studied, as they are generally thought to present stress-induced growth disruptions. The present research uses the frequency of LEH in spatially dispersed but chronologically compact samples to document regional differences in growth stress. Analysis of 1,068 teeth representing the permanent dentition of 921 individuals from six medieval sites in Denmark, Norway, and Greenland showed that the highest frequency of LEH occurred in the mandibular canine (29.13%) followed by the maxillary central incisor (27.51%). Comparison of these results with developmental charts, showing that maxillary incisor and mandibular canine crowns are completely formed between 4 and 7 years of age, indicated that early childhood was likely a stressful time for medieval Scandinavians. Overall, LEHs were more common in maxillary teeth than in mandibular teeth. Although statistically significant differences in LEH frequencies were not found between males and females, locations did differ significantly.