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Archaeological dental incising (pattern carving) and abrasion practices of Pre Latte and Latte Chamorus.

Nicolette Parr, osteologist and doctoral candidate for the Univ of Florida presented at the Guam Adelup Governors Hall for the Guam Museum Foundation a summary of her dissertation “Dental Analysis of the Prehistoric Chamorro from the Naton Beach Site”. It is a comparative analysis of Chamoru teeth from the Pre-Latte period -- 1800 B.C. to 1000 A.D. -- to the Latte Period -- 1000 A.D. to 1521 A.D.

The Pre-Latte Chamorus had the largest teeth in the world possibly reflecting its use as a tool in maritime survival. Pre-Latte people had larger teeth which were characterized by more cavities on the sides of their canines. The Latte people had smaller teeth reflecting the societal transition into agriculture but less cavities primarily on top molars. Betel stains of the Latte era protected their teeth from caries.

Incising or filing of patterns on the front upper teeth (all the way back to the canines) occurred in 14% of the latte sample but 2% of the prelatte remains. Oblique lines and trapezoidal patterns in delicate concentrated patterns characterized the latte teeth. Abrading (shaving of the front surface of the upper teeth into concave blades) was characteristic of the prelatte period. These cultural phenomenon have no modern day Chamoru equivalent. The latte teeth had more frequency of developmental disturbances probably marking times of food shortages.

The Naton Beach excavation site near the Guam Aurora Resort Villa and Spa in Tumon contains the largest amount of Pre-Latte human remains unearthed.