Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Southern Mississippi
Thursday All day, Park Concourse
Bioarchaeological research in the Southeastern United States has largely been focused on the Mississippian period due to the decline in health as a result of increased sedentism and intensified agriculture. The literature, however, has been less concerned with Archaic populations – with exception to large groups such as Indian Knoll. Biocultural examinations of small Archaic groups, when compared to larger samples, may prove to be beneficial to the ongoing research in understanding the lifeways and adaptations of prehistoric people as they reflect sociopolitical and subsistence strategies.
For this study, a comprehensive bioarchaeological analysis was conducted on an Archaic population excavated from Oak View Landing (40DR1), a multiple occupation site located along the Tennessee River in Decatur County, Tennessee, and the sample consists of 50 adults (18 males, 16 females, 16 of unknown sex). Skeletal indicators used to understand biocultural phenomena (e.g., dietary reconstruction, infection, activity markers) were assessed macroscopically on cranial and postcranial elements.
Results from this study indicate a low prevalence of metabolic disease within this population; none of the 43 crania observed displayed anemic lesions. Of the 50 individuals examined, two were especially noteworthy for systemic infection (including osteomyelitis). Rates of arthritis were also high (21/50), as were cases of individuals with trauma, especially to cranial and forearm bones (10/50). Archaic populations have been shown to be highly active; thus the high prevalence of arthritis and trauma is not unexpected. These findings will be compared with larger Archaic groups to determine correlations between health patterns and population size.