Micro-analysis of Cementum - Archive for Biological Recorded Events 

Principal Investigator: Benoît Bertrand / Supervisor: Martine Vercauteren

Behind the acronym MaCABRE lies the living project aiming to decode a biological archive to date life history parameters from human remains. Dental cementum covering the tooth root is incrementally deposited throughout life and does not undergo a remodeling process. Consequently, the method for age-at-death estimation based on its annual deposition is acknowledged for its superior performance. Therefore, the potential of this dental tissue is far from being fully exploited. As demonstrated on animal, modification of calcium metabolism during pregnancies influences cementogenesis resulting in hypomineralized deposits. Decrypting the cementum archive is crucial to identify individual patterns of reproduction such as age at first pregnancy, number of pregnancies and intervals between pregnancies. This has fundamental implications in Forensic Anthropology to assist identification and in Bioarchaeology to access reproductive behaviour.

Recent findings on living great apes and human suggest that stresses and life-history parameters such as trauma, renal disorders, and pregnancies can be identified from dental cementum growth layers. 

An impact on available calcium at the mineralization front of the cementum during those physiological events would explain these biological records. By examining modifications within incremental structures, hypomineralized deposits can be detected and dated. Even if in our previous researches we established that if methodological, physiological, and taphonomical factors are considered, cememtum can serve as a versatile and powerful tool for age-at-death estimation in bioarcheology and forensic contexts, life history identification remains sporadic, with results often carefully qualified or disputed. 

Then further research was necessary.