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


Human postcranial morphology: trends in the Central European Holocene record

VLADIMIR SLADEK1,2, MARGIT BERNER3, CHRISTOPHER RUFF4, DANIEL SOSNA5, PATRIK GALETA5, PETR VELEMINSKY6, ELISKA SCHUPLEROVA1, MARTIN HORA1, JAROSLAV ROMAN5 and ANNA PANKOWSKA7.

1Department of Anthropology and Human Genetics, Charles University, Prague, 2Department of Ecology, Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Brno, 3Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum, Vienna, 4The Center of Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 5Department of Anthropology, Univ. West Bohemia, Pilsen, 6Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum, Prague, 7Institute for History of Medicine and Foreign Languages, Charles University, Prague

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Central European (CE) Holocene is seen as the period of substantial changes in economic, social and political organization, starting from the small and flexible groups of foragers and first agriculturalists (Mesolithic, Neolithic) through secondary product revolution (Eneolithic), hierarchical settlement structures (Bronze Age) and finishing with Medieval and Historic urbanization. However, little is known about the effect of these changes on human postcranial morphology. A CE sample of 580 individuals from nine archaeological periods was analyzed here. Stature, body mass, and cross-sectional parameters of femora and tibiae were analyzed. Mean stature decreases from the Neolithic to Iron Age/Roman and increases to the Middle Ages; this observation is more prominent among males than females. During CE Holocene, male mean body mass has no temporal tendency but has higher fluctuations compared to female groups. Female mean body mass shows a slight tendency toward higher values in the later Holocene. Mean cortical area shows a slight tendency toward higher values in the later Holocene in both males and females. An index of mobility (A-P/M-L bending rigidity of the femoral and tibial shafts) decreases through the Holocene; this trend is more accentuated among males. Overall robusticity demonstrates either a slight increase through CE Holocene (Zp-femora) or remains stable (Zp-tibiae) for both males and females. In conclusion, it is surprising that the impact of socio-economic changes on postcranial features was so limited through the Holocene since the majority of the described tendencies are relatively slight.

This study was funded by National Science Foundation (grant number 064229) and Grant Agency of Czech Republic (grant number 206/09/0589).

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