The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Health and Disease at Ledford Island: A Study of Late Mississippian Human Remains

LINDSEY J. HELMS.

Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Thursday Morning, 301E Add to calendar

Late pre-Columbian agricultural populations of North America are routinely associated with chronic nutritional as well as endemic disease stress consequential to variables such as episodic agricultural shortfalls, population aggregation, social stratification, and sociopolitical change. In the Chickamauga reservoir of lower East Tennessee, the Late Mississippian period Dallas phase culture abruptly ended at the turn of the fifteenth century. It was replaced by the Mouse Creek (AD 1400-1600) culture; reflecting a fundamental sociopolitical reorganization from the previous phase. Although several Dallas phase sites have been assessed for basic health indicators (e.g., porotic hyperostosis, cribra orbitalia, linear enamel hypoplasia, periostitis), little health status information is available for Mouse Creek phase sites. The large Mouse Creek phase site of Ledford Island (40BY13) (N=441) was assessed for markers of health status by age and sex and then compared to the geographically adjacent Dallas phase (AD 1300-1400) site of Hiwassee Island. Sex differences within Ledford Island were evident in subadult-onset stress markers: males exhibit a higher rate of porotic pitting while females exhibit multiple LEH bands. The sample displays exceptionally thick, and a high prevalence of, endocranial hyperostosis. As porotic pitting and hyperostosis did not always occur in conjunction, the prevalence of porotic hyperostosis exceeds the frequencies based on ectocranial evidence alone. Nevertheless, when compared to Hiwassee Island, the multiple health indicators suggest that the Ledford Island sample is markedly less stressed.

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