Dr. John R. Lukacs

Research Interests

Research interests:

  • Dental anthropology of prehistoric and living peoples of South Asia
  • Changing patterns of health and nutrition in prehistory (paleopathology)
  • Sex differences in developmental and degenerative dental diseases
  • Dental anthropology and paleopathology prehistoric skeletal series
  • Enamel defects in living and prehistoric humans, great apes and hominid fossils



Current research projects & publications:

A bioarchaeological analysis of human remains from Damdama, a ‘Mesolithic’ site in the Gangetic Plain of north India.  Goal: to advance knowledge of health, nutrition and activity patterns during the transition to agriculture in South Asia.

  • Dental anthropology of Mahadaha & Sarai-Nahar Rai (Lukacs & Pal, 1992)                    
  • Mesolithic subsistence from dental attributes (Lukacs & Pal, 1993)
  • Skeletal variation and activity patterns (Lukacs and Pal, 2003)
  • Neolithic, Pakistan - Mesolithic, Ganga comparison (Lukacs, 2004, 2007)
  • Genetic affinities and biological adaptations (Lukacs, 2007)

Documenting sex differences in pathological dental lesions (especially caries and enamel hypoplasias) in prehistoric and living groups.  Goal: to better understanding the multi-causal etiology of sex differences in oral health: diet, food preparation, reproductive physiology, fertility, and hormonal influences.

  • Sex differences in caries in South Asia (Lukacs, 1996)
  • Explaining sex differences in enamel hypoplasias (Guatelli-Steinberg & Lukacs, 1999)
  • Etiological issues: caries, saliva and sex hormones (Lukacs & Largaspeda, 2006)
  • Meta-analysis of sex differences in caries rates in prehistory (Lukacs & Thompson, in press)
  • Meta-analysis of sex differences in caries rates in living (non-Euro-American) populations (Lukacs & Thompson, in preparation)

Enamel defects in the deciduous teeth of prehistoric and living humans, fossil and extant apes, especially labial canine hypoplasias.  Focal study samples include:

  • Prehistoric skeletal series from South Asia (Lukacs & Walimbe, 1998, 2000; Lukacs et al., 2001)
  • Living children in Pakistan (Lukacs 1991) and in India (Lukacs et al., 2001)
  • Extant great apes (Lukacs 1999, 2001) and fossil catarrhines (Lukacs 2001)

Measuring changes in health status and nutrition across subsistence transitions: diachronic and synchronic.

Diachronic: From reliance on farming to increased foraging - in western India.  Goal: to evaluate the relative impact and nature of interaction among key variables such as climate change, subsistence shift, demographics and human biology.

Synchronic: Impact of trade and exchange across cultural boundaries on oral health.

  • Foragers and agriculturalists (Lukacs, 1990, 2002)

Traumatic dental injuries and occupational usage of teeth as tools:

  • Dental trauma in Neolithic and Bronze Age Pakistan (Lukacs & Hemphill, 1990)
  • Non-dietary tooth wear: interproximal grooves, labial abrasion (Lukacs and Pastor, 1988, 1990)

Documenting variation in dental morphology and assessing biological
relationships of prehistoric populations

Exploring the relationship between two indicators of physiological stress: enamel hypoplasia and odontometric asymmetry, using a comparative multi-species research design that includes juvenile modern humans and great apes.  Goal: to determine if localized hypoplasia of primary canine teeth is an indicator of systemic developmental stress or results from localized, non-systemic factors.  Then to use these results in the interpretation of enamel defects in Australopithecus afarensis.

  • research funded by Leakey Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, UO Bray award in data collection phase (Fall 2007)
  • For more information see the Grants page.