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Proceedings Paper

Imaging of the human tooth cementum ultrastructure of archeological teeth, using hard x-ray microtomography to determine age-at-death and stress periods
Author(s): Gabriela Mani-Caplazi; Georg Schulz; Hans Deyhle; Gerhard Hotz; Werner Vach; Ursula Wittwer-Backofen; Bert Müller
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Paper Abstract

Tooth cementum annulation (TCA) is used by anthropologists to decipher age-at-death and stress periods based on yearly deposited incremental lines (ILs). The destructive aspect of the TCA method, which requires cutting the tooth root in sections to display the ILs, using transmission light microscopy, can be problematic for archeological teeth, and so a non-invasive imaging technique is preferred. The purpose of this study is to evaluate conventional micro computed tomography (μCT) and synchrotron radiation-based X-ray micro computed tomography (SRμCT) as a non-destructive technique to explore the tooth cementum ultrastructure and to display ILs. Seven archeological teeth from the Basel- Spitalfriedhof collection (patients died between 1845 and 1868 in the city hospital) were selected for the μCT experiments. This collection is considered a unique worldwide reference series in the anthropological science community, due to the high level of documented life history data in the medical files and the additionally collected and verified birth history by genealogists. The results demonstrate that the conventional μCT is complementary to the SRμCT allowing to prescreen the teeth using conventional μCT to identify the appropriate specimens and areas for the SRμCT measurements. SRμCT displayed cementum ring structure corresponding to the ILs in the microscope view in archeological teeth in a non-invasive fashion with the potential for more accurate assessments of ILs compared to conventional techniques. The ILs were mainly clearly visible, and it was possible to count them for age-at-death assessment and identify qualitatively irregular ILs which could constitute stress markers.

Paper Details

Date Published: 27 September 2017
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 10391, Developments in X-Ray Tomography XI, 103911C (27 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2276148
Show Author Affiliations
Gabriela Mani-Caplazi, Univ. Basel (Switzerland)
Georg Schulz, Univ. Basel (Switzerland)
Hans Deyhle, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Gerhard Hotz, Univ. Basel (Switzerland)
Natural History Museum of Basel (Switzerland)
Werner Vach, Univ. Hospital Basel (Switzerland)
Ursula Wittwer-Backofen, Univ. of Freiburg (Germany)
Bert Müller, Univ. Basel (Switzerland)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10391:
Developments in X-Ray Tomography XI
Bert Müller; Ge Wang, Editor(s)

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