Tooth Wear Age Estimation of Ruminants from Archaeological Sites


Tooth Wear
Dental Attrition
Age Estimation

How to Cite

Kohut, G. (2022). Tooth Wear Age Estimation of Ruminants from Archaeological Sites. Pathways, 3(1), 82–105.


The teeth of ruminants (cud-chewing herbivores) can be used to estimate age. Tooth wear age estimation is an especially valuable method in archaeological research because it is non-destructive, efficient, and is adaptable to multiple species, which provides effective results. The objective of this paper is to review tooth wear age estimation approaches taken with a focus on cervid (deer) and caprine (sheep and goat) mandibles. I discuss the process of dental attrition involving ruminant chewing, digestion, and feeding behaviour, as well as factors that affect the rate of wear including individual and population variance. The approaches to tooth wear age estimation have been divided into three overarching categories: the Crown Height Method, the Visual Wear Pattern Method, and the Wear Trait Scoring Method. These approaches are all non-destructive and require similar assumptions about the regularities of tooth wear. Each involves different levels of accuracy, ease of use, efficiency, and applicability to archaeological mandibles. This paper highlights the strengths and weaknesses for these approaches and explains that these various methods reviewed are each better suited to different research situations. Taken together, tooth wear age estimation is a valuable tool that zooarchaeologists employ to reconstruct age-based demographic profiles of animal remains recovered from archaeological sites, illustrating how people interacted with and used them.


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