The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Development of bone strength and rigidity at Neolithic Catalhoyuk: adaptation and lifestyle in early Holocene farmers from south-central Anatolia


1Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 2Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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The shift from foraging to farming and the rise of large, agglomerated communities in the earlier Holocene occasioned profound changes in lifestyle and activity. This study documents and interprets a unique record of activity and lifestyle in a large series of human remains from Catalhoyuk, an early Neolithic community in south-central Turkey dating ca. 9400-8000 yBP, focusing on developmental changes and patterns for bone strength (Zp, polar section modulus, standardized for body size) of femoral midshafts (50% section) for juveniles (neonate to 21; n=35) and adults (n=61; 30 males, 31 females). Analysis of Zp reveals strong similarity in growth trajectory with a comparable series from the northern Great Plains (Sully site, South Dakota). The ontogenetic pattern suggests an active environment and adequate nutrition. Comparisons of Catalhoyuk adult Zp with European Early and Late Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, other Neolithic, and Bronze Age series shows that Catalhoyuk males are closest to Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic (hunter-gatherers) series, whereas adult females are similar to other Neolithic series (farmers/pastoralists). Comparisons of A-P/M-L bending strength places both adult females and males from Catalhoyuk closest to other Neolithic (sedentary) samples. These results suggest that the population led a highly demanding, yet sedentary lifestyle. Over the course of the history of the community, there is some suggestion of increased mobility, at least among females, coinciding with increased aridity and depletion of resources prior to the abandonment of the community.

Research funded by the National Geographic Society (to Larsen and Ruff).

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