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Diet as a model for Neandertal group complexity: Evidence from the Croatian site of Krapina


Jessica Droke, University of Wyoming

Publication Date: 2018
Location: Krapina, Croatia
Team: Jessica Droke, James C. Ahern, Christopher W. Schmidt

Project Goal
Do Neandertals show similar group dietary patterns to modern humans? What can we infer about Neandertal group structure and complexity from intra-group dietary trends?

Neandertals are increasingly being viewed as similar to modern humans with respect to both genetic and material cultural evidence. This study will seek to examine whether or not Neandertal group organization is similar to the structures seen in modern human groups that are reflected in differential access to resources.

Methods Used
High resolution molds and casts will be created of the Krapina Neandertals’ dentition. The pits and scratches that form on the enamel micro-surface through mastication of food, known as dental microwear, will be viewed under a white-light confocal profiler. 3D data clouds will be captured of each tooth surface and then loaded into a surface metrology program in order to assess surface characteristics such as roughness and orientation of microwear features. Dental microwear variables will then be viewed in relation to demographic factors (i.e. age and sex) in order to discern differential access to resources that could serve as a model for group organization.

Conclusions are pending, but the work done here will serve as part of my dissertation research and generate multiple conference presentations and publications.  

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