Archetypal image of the teeth – Stimulating certain understandings for the appreciation of the biting wit

Giselle Manica, Scheila Manica (Lead / Corresponding author)

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There are meanings which were [are] attributed to the archetypal image of the tooth, honouring how dynamic operations of the biological (chemical and physiological characteristics), emotional, and behavioural aspects of its existence and organic manifestation impacted the understandings that some ethnic communities, ingrained in their own ecological, geographic, religious, historic, and cultural factors, built and developed through their approximations to teeth, and that can be possibly seen as scaffolding the innumerable, stable and/or modified symbolic representations that constitute the emerging narratives modern humans manifest and exchange when having the tooth as the object of their current experience and enquiry. It discusses individual, collective, and transpersonal states of feeling and reasoning that analyse the possession and the observation of teeth and the phenomena related to their utility, appearance, state of wear, and identitarian judgements that can be drawn from their materiality. Hence, this research discusses how the practise and/or attribution of rituals for modification and/or mutilation of teeth, socioeconomic expectations, cultural meanings, self-identity information, dietary styles, and crimes that surround the human dentition have occurred and insist to occur throughout the conscious and/or unconscious transmission of ideas and ideals that are attached to the image of the tooth, revealing a certain common yet transformed knowledge between traditional and modern societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages16
JournalBulletin of the International Association for Paleodontology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • archetypal image
  • tooth
  • symbology of the tooth
  • enamel
  • ethnic groups
  • rituals


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