Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Among archaeological specimens, teeth can provide insight into the behaviors and cultural practices of a population. Inuit specimens are ideal for studying dentition because of the unique way teeth are used as tools. The prehistoric Ipiutak (ca.100 B.C. – A.D. 500) and Tigara (ca. A.D. 900 –1700) of Point Hope, Alaska, represent two environmentally similar, although culturally and temporally different, populations. Based on associated archaeological finds, the Ipiutak do not represent a whaling culture. Instead, they focused on hunting smaller sea mammals and caribou. Conversely, the Tigara represent a typical Inuit whaling culture. Whaling cultures depend on a distinct division of labor where men engage primarily in hunting while women tend to manufacturing of clothing and the collection of plants for consumption. This research project investigates the notion of a sexual division of labor and how role-based behavior may be reflected in the dentition. Fifty-eight Ipiutak specimens and two hundred thirty-one Tigara specimens were analyzed for dental evidence of a sexual division of labor. Caries, antemortem loss, and attrition were noted as well as a number of occupational cultural modifications. The frequency of these pathologies and alterations was calculated to determine if a difference existed between sexes within and between populations. The results demonstrate that teeth were used more intensively among Tigara females than males. This is reflected in heavy attrition, antemortem loss, and a number of cultural modifications. The Ipiutak males and females did not display a significant difference in the presence of dental pathologies and alterations. These results suggest a different social organization in the two cultures. The Tigara likely had a distinct sexual division of labor characteristic of most Arctic whaling cultures. In contrast, the Ipiutak likely had no distinct sexual differences in their labor.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mary H. Manhein