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

Occupational mobility in nineteenth century rural England: the interpretation of entheseal changes


1Department of Archaeology, Durham University, 2York Osteoarchaeology, York

Friday Afternoon, Forum Suite Add to calendar

The identified individuals from Fewston churchyard, North Yorkshire, span the period when the first censuses were undertaken in England. This allows occupation to be studied in depth for each individual through time. The aim of this study is to highlight occupational mobility. The hypothesis was that occupational mobility would increase the likelihood of entheseal changes (EC) due to changes in loading patterns caused by changes in tasks undertaken.

Materials and Methods: Only identified adult individuals were included in this study (males n=10, females n=7). All individuals were recorded blind by Henderson based on a list compiled by Caffell. Degenerative joint disease (DJD), fractures, and signs of boneforming disease were recorded. EC were recorded using the presence/absence method defined by Villotte. Occupational mobility was defined as: a change between heavy manual and either non-manual or light manual work or vice versa (e.g. servant to farmer).

Results: 29% of females and 45% of males changed occupation. Differences were not tested for the females. It was found that the median age of the males who changed occupation (median: 78) was higher than that of those who did not (median: 41). Frequencies of DJD (24% versus 31%) and those of EC (48% versus 67%) were higher in the occupational change category.

Discussion: The small sample size and the difference in age between the two categories likely explain the findings. However, understanding the effect of occupational mobility on EC is vital for the study of occupation in the past.

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