Osteology of a Slave Burial Population From Barbados, West lndies

1982 (R. S. Corruccini, J. S. Handler, R. Mutaw, and F. W. Lange) “Osteology of a Slave Burial Population From Barbados, West lndies.” AJPA 59: 443-59

A unique seventeenth-nineteenth century slave cemetery population from Newton plantation, Barbados, allows examination of craniodental characters in relation to ethnohistorical data. Age-at-death estimates suggest life expectancy at birth of 29 years and low infant mortality; historical demography, however, suggests life expectancy of 20 years and very high infant mortality. Tooth decay, bilateral tooth loss, periodontal disease, root hypercementosis, and severe enamel hypoplasia are high in frequency. The teeth yield evidence of such cultural practices as pipe-smoking and incisor mutilation. Several skeletal features reflect periodic near-starvation. Directional and fluctuating dental asymmetry, relative tooth size, and hypoplasia distribution suggest slaves experienced considerable weaning trauma; metabolic stress at this time exceeded that of prenatal and immediate postnatal periods. Odontometrics and dental and cranial nonmetric traits indicate that modern Blacks are intermediate between the ancestral slaves and modern Whites but more similar to the latter, suggesting effects of environmental covariance exceed those of genetic admixture. Nonmetric trait distributions show nonrandom patterns according to area of burial in the cemetery, a possible result of family segregation.

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