Biological structure and health implications from tooth size at mission San Luis de Apalachee

Christopher Stojanowski, Clark Spencer Larsen, Tiffiny A. Tung, Bonnie G. McEwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study analyzes dental metric variation to examine the biological structure of the native population at Mission San Luis de Apalachee, a late 17th century mission located in the Apalachee Province of Spanish colonial Florida. Three topics are addressed: (1) comparison of tooth sizes among adult and subadults, (2) analysis of the bio-spatial structure of skeletons within the church area, and (3) comparison of phenotypic profiles of individuals interred within coffins in the ritual nucleus of the church: the altar region. Analyses indicate that subadults had smaller average tooth sizes than adults for the posterior dentition that was particularly evident in mandibular nonpolar molars and premolars. This disparity, also documented in two other mission populations, likely represents ontogenetic stress and resulting increased mortality among those most at risk for early death. Analysis of the spatial structure of graves failed to document biological structuring by side of the aisle or by burial row, although some gross differences were evident when front, middle, and rear church burials were compared. Individuals buried in coffins within the same row were phenotypically similar to one another. However, inter-row comparisons indicated lack of phenotypic similarity among all coffin interments. These analyses suggest maintenance of kin-structured burial for elites alone within the San Luis community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-222
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Bioarchaeology
  • Biodistance
  • Kinship analysis
  • Mortality
  • Teeth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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