Ancient Maya Teeth
Dental Modification, Cosmology, and Social Identity in Mesoamerica
256 Pages, 8.50 x 11.00 in, 95 b&w images, 16-page color insert, 18 tables
Sales Date: June 25, 2024
A study of Maya dental modification from archaeological sites spanning three millennia.
Dental modification was common across ancient societies, but perhaps none were more avid practitioners than the Maya. They filed their teeth flat or pointy, polished and drilled them, and crafted decorative inlays of jade and pyrite. Unusually, Maya of all social classes, ages, and professions engaged in dental modification. What did it mean to them?
Ancient Maya Teeth is the most comprehensive study of Maya dental modification ever published, based on thousands of teeth recovered from 130 sites spanning three millennia. Esteemed archaeologist Vera Tiesler sifts the evidence, much of it gathered with her own hands and illustrated here with more than a hundred photographs. Exploring the underlying theory and practice of dental modification, Tiesler raises key questions. How did modifications vary across the individual's lifespan? What tools were used? How did the Maya deal with pain—and malpractice? How did they keep their dentitions healthy, functioning, and beautiful? What were the relationships among gender, social identity, and particular dental-modification choices? Addressing these and other issues, Ancient Maya Teeth reveals how dental-modification customs shifted over the centuries, indexing other significant developments in Mayan cultural history.
The publication of Ancient Maya Teeth was made possible by the support of the The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies.