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

Diseases of early first Millennium B.C. mounted Pastoralists in the Kunlun Mountains, China


1Scientific Department, German Archaeological Institute Berlin, Germany,, 2Institute for History of Medicine, Charité, Berlin, Germany, 3Department of Biochemistry, University of Göttingen, Germany, 4Department of Anatomy, University of Göttingen, Germany

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Paleopathological investigations on archaeological skeletons of the population of Liushui, Xinjiang, West China, dating to the early first millennium B.C. were carried out on 100 individuals. The skeletons were examined with macroscopic and optical-microscopic techniques.

Beside other afflictions, musculoskeletal diseases appeared in a high frequency. The highest occurrence of pathological processes is shown in the lower extremities, for example jumper´s knee, tendinitis of the Achilles` tendon as well as tendovaginitis and rupture of tendons of the feet. Also calcaneal spurs could be found. Additionally, ruptures of ligaments of the ancle joints as well as myositis ossificans or stressfractures of the feet bones occured.

In the upper extremities particularly the shoulder and elbow joints were affected: Epicondylitis as well as degenerative processes or rupture of the tendons of the shoulder joint and stressfractures of the acromion of the scapula occured.

Many pathological changes are evidence for intensive horse riding: Fractures of vertebral bodies are caused by compressive stress over a long timeperiod. Also arthrosis, especially in the lower parts of the spine, together with ligamentopathy could be a distinct indication of riding.

Paleopathological results as well as archaeological evidence define the population of Liushui as people involved in vertical mobile pastoralism with the resulting activities like extensive horse riding, walking and jumping with heavy loads, and archery practice from a very young age.

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