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Miss Charlotte McElvaney

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Member of the Department of Archaeology  


I am a Ph.D. candidate in dental anthropology and bioarchaeology, working with arctic hunter-gatherer dental and skeletal remains. I have a MSc Human Osteology and Palaeopathology from the University of Bradford and a B.A. Archaeology from Birkbeck, College, University of London. I am experienced in archaeological excavation and recording techniques, post-excavation procedures, and photography both during and post-excavation.

  • 2021 Alaska Anthropological Association. Paper: The tooth of the matter: Dental cultural identifiers in populations from across Alaska and Siberia (Preliminary results)
  • 2021 Bioarchaeology Early Careers Conference. Paper: Wear are the caries? Aetiological association of wear and caries, and implications and recommendations for caries analyses (Preliminary results)
Thesis Title

Investigating proposed behavioural and social divergences between distinct Inuit hunter-gatherer groups using paramasticatory dental striae and dental health.


The Inuit are an extant population, extending over vast geographical and ecological regions, with an extended temporality. There are extensive ethnohistorical accounts of unaltered lifestyles since first contact. These ethnohistorical accounts show the variation of cultural habits (i.e. clothing), to subsistence strategies between Inuit populations. Also highlighted are the similarities, such as the use of teeth as third hands (paramasticatory activities) the resulting marks referred to as paramasticatory dental striae, with a divergence made between sexes.

As the dentition is apt for bioarchaeological analysis, and the Inuit partaking in paramasticatory activities, a study on Inuit dentition will reveal intra- and inter-population variations and population specific cultural habits.

The research questions are;

  • Does each population exhibit comparable evidence of sex-based division of labour?
  • Can an age when paramasticatory activities began be deduced? And if so, how does it differ between populations?
  • Is there a correlation of age and/or sex with the presence/absence of dental trauma and palaeopathologies.

These research questions will help test the following hypotheses;

  • Human skeletal remains from varying cultural affiliations, temporality and geographic regions, will exhibit divergent dental health, wear, and paramasticatory dental striae.
  • On an individual level, dissimilar rates of linear enamel hypoplasia across the populations will be exhibited.
  • There will be a correlation between attrition, antemortem tooth loss and paramasticatory dental striae.
  • Any bioarchaeological evidence of paramasticatory activities and wear, corresponding to sex, will match the ethnohistorical evidence of when juveniles began activities assigned by sex.
  • Female dentition will exhibit evidence of greater repetitive stresses, whilst male dentition will exhibit traumatic injuries.

The aimed outcomes of the hypotheses are;

  • Establish the greatly varied life histories between different Inuit populations, using dental health, physiological stresses and paramasticatory activities.
  • Establish if any evidence of dental health, physiological stresses and paramasticatory activities can be attributed to dietary or paramasticatory activities, based on age or sex.

The research will incorporate adults, juveniles, and mixed dentitions individuals, to analysis the age paramasticatory activities and sex-based divisions begin, and if inter-population divergences are present. Alongside this, health will be gaged, to analysis sex-based access to resources and prevalence and distribution of physiological stresses. The data can be used for an in-depth analysis in the complexity in cultural divergences between Inuit populations.

The dental health markers used in the analysis are; antemortem tooth loss and damage, dental wear (extent and direction), linear enamel hypoplasia, paramasticatory dental striae, periodontal disease, interproximal grooves, dental calculus and carious lesions.

  • 2021 Edwin S. Hall, Jr. Student Paper Competition, The Alaska Anthropological Association
  • 2019 James Van Stone Scholarship, awarded by The Alaskan Anthropological Association

Research interests

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Dental Anthropology
  • Palaeopathology
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Palaeoprimatology