Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Marie Danforth

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Edwin Jackson

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Jeffrey Kaufmann

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


Located in western Belize, Tipu was occupied from 1541-1704. This Colonial Maya population from a Spanish visita mission church was analyzed to investigate health disturbances associated with European contact. Dental defect called enamel hypoplasias were scored to assess childhood health. Standard methods of scoring (Buikstra and Ubelaker 1994) were employed to assess frequency, severity, and type of episode in the permanent anterior dentition. For analysis, 325 individuals were placed into age groups of subadults (6-17 years), younger adults (18-35 years), and older adults (36-50+ years). The population was also considered for differences by sex and tooth type.

Results showed a mean of 1.89 hypoplasias per tooth with canines averaging 0.36 more episodes than maxillary central incisors. 79.3% of central incisors were affected and 87.3% of canines displayed lesions. Individuals dying as younger adults had significantly more episodes than older adults. Only a slight difference between means and individual tooth frequencies were present between the sexes. Over 90% of the episodes recorded were of mild severity. Subadults demonstrated a higher frequency of moderate and severe hypoplasias. Mean age at formation was consistent across sex and age groups with most forming from 2-3 years on incisors and 3-4.5 years on canines. These data suggest that overall the population at Tipu was relativity healthy despite European contact, which is also reflected in low frequencies of other indicators, such as anemia and infection. Similarly, they do not reflect extensive presence of epidemic disease, instead showing adaptation despite notable culture change.