The Vikings Tooth


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The intentional mutilation, discoloration or ornamentation of teeth has been common in various parts of the world throughout history, particularly during the period between and A.

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Certain groups in pre-Columbian Latin America filed patterns onto their teeth or adorned them with stone inlays, for instance, while some Vietnamese, Sudanese and West African tribes sharpened their front incisors into points. And Native Americans in the Great Lakes region carved dental furrows very similar to those found in the Viking grave. This pair of teeth, believed to have once belonged to a Viking invader, features deep horizontal grooves that may have been designed to decorate warriors or scare opponents. Until , when Viking skulls with filed teeth were discovered in Sweden, it was believed that the rage for dental decoration never reached Europe.

Several other examples later turned up in Denmark. And in , a Swedish anthropologist analyzed Viking skeletons dating from to A.


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Experts have surmised that the Scandinavian seafarers learned about dental modification during their far-ranging travels and began practicing it themselves, perhaps as a way to honor warriors or distinguish a specific professional group. Because they were unearthed in Britain and belonged to an individual who was likely engaged in battle, the grooved teeth recently found in Dorset provide a unique example of Viking dental modification and may offer new insight into its significance.

He added that the filing process was certainly painful but appeared to have been done by skilled hands. Archaeologists first stumbled upon the Dorset burial pit in June while supervising roadwork near the town of Weymouth. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Caroline Arcini Corresponding Author E-mail address: caroline.

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Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Get access to the full version of this article. View access options below. You previously purchased this article through ReadCube. Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. View Preview. Learn more Check out. Abstract Finds of deliberate dental modification have for the first time been found in archaeological human skeletal material from Europe.

Fitzhugh said that the Vikings might have become aware of the practice during their voyages to Spain and the Mediterranean encountering West Africans. Other scholars have suggested that the Vikings may have learned the practice on their travels to North America.

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Besides the filed teeth, nothing found so far separates the men from others living in the Viking Age. The Lewis Chessmen: A warder rook taking the form of a wild-eyed Berserker biting his shield with battle fury.

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Photo: British Museum. Why they had their teeth modified remains a mystery, but it is likely that the marks represented some kind of accomplishment or status. Categories: Culture , History , Vikings. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.

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