Dental health of the late 19th and early 20th century Khoesan

Homo. 2015 Jun;66(3):187-202. doi: 10.1016/j.jchb.2015.02.004. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


This paper presents the results of the dental analysis performed on a Khoesan skeletal sample representing the late 19th and early 20th century Cape Colony in southern Africa. Skeletal material from two European collections (Vienna and Paris) was selected to compile a total sample of 116 specimens. Dental pathology frequencies were calculated for caries (28.4%), antemortem tooth loss (37.9%), periapical abscesses (29.3%), periodontal disease (26.7%), calculus (44.0%) and impacted canines (4.3%). Attrition scores indicated that the group under study had an average rate of attrition compared to other southern African populations. Frequency and intensity data were compared to several other samples from both the pre-contact and contact phases by means of chi-squared analysis. The outcome of the study suggested that the group under study was most likely in a state of transition between a diet and lifestyle of hunting-and-gathering and agriculture. Results were also consistent with those of groups from a low socio-economic status.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ethnic Groups / history*
  • Female
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oral Health / history*
  • Periodontal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Periodontal Diseases / history
  • Periodontal Diseases / pathology
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Tooth Diseases / epidemiology
  • Tooth Diseases / history
  • Tooth Diseases / pathology