February 25, 2013
Text reading: pp. 197-210
What is Bio-archaeology?
The study of the human skeleton in an archaeological context
Not just what did people eat but what about differences within populations
Did access to food have to do with status?
o Habitual activities
Activities that leave traces on the skeleton
Look for patterns within and between populations
How do we look at health?
Paleopathology-study of health and disease in past populations
We can only look at those conditions that leave traces on the skeleton
Patterns of illness and disease—tie these patterns to some cultural aspects
o Age-risk for children
o Status-assumed that higher status means better health but sometimes this is not the
o Time-do we see changes in patterns over timen
Rickets-increase in UK
-increased with the introduction of factories/industrial period
-don’t see sunlights for days on end, what you see is that extended periods of vitamin D deficiency you
see bending and fracture of bones caused by this
-bones don’t mineralize properly, bones are not strong; pressure of actually walking and the fact that
bones are not strong, they will bend
-if rickets are seen in arms, means that the child had rickets when they were crawling
-what we are interested in, is how many people in a population were afflicted by this (look for patterns)
How do we look at diet?
Most common way is looking at the teeth
-look at evidence on the teeth for things like infections
-can see any abscesses in the mandible caused by either a very severe cavity that has gone into the
root of the tooth and set up an infection in the bone
-heavy tooth wear tooth wear so heavy expose pulp cavities and likely lead to abscesses
-clear change over time; what caused an increase in number of caries was the way they processed corn
(ground, stick to teeth) How do we look at work? (Activity markers)
Auditory exostosis—human skull ear hole; usually there is no obstruction; however this individual has an