Semester of Graduation

Spring 2021


Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The Lake St. Agnes Mound (16AV26) site, located in central Louisiana, is composed of two, temporally distinct burial components; one, a Coles Creek period component, at the base of the mound (~780-880 CE), and the other, a Plaquemine subperiod component, at its apex (~1400 CE). These burials, though heavily fragmented, commingled, and representing small sample sizes, are valuable for studying the transition to agriculture in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. It is now clear that for the Coles Creek period, maize was likely only a ceremonial crop rather than a staple food source (Kidder, 1993; Listi, 2011). The reliance on maize agriculture in Plaquemine times is inconsistent. An exploration into the diet of the two Lake St. Agnes burial components may illuminate how or if maize agriculture spread into this region of Louisiana.

Both samples were assessed for the presence of dental caries, calculus, linear enamel hypoplasias, dental micro- and macrowear, and porotic cranial lesions. The results demonstrated few statistically significant differences between the samples. Both samples exhibited low levels of caries and linear enamel hypoplasia (~10%) but experienced higher rates of periodontal disease and porotic cranial lesions. What is suggested by these results is consistency over time in diet, rather than evidence for a dietary transition as would be expected with the adoption of agriculture. The variability within each sample regarding the dental micro- and macrowear is interpreted as both seasonal differences in the types of food available, as well as differences in the access, or preference towards certain types of foods, such as native garden crops over tougher, wild plants.

Committee Chair

Saunders, Rebecca