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

News from the Northern New France: A Pathological Assessment from the 18th Century French Military and Trading Post Fort Michilimackinac


1Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Southern Mississippi

Thursday 11:15-11:30, 200ABC Add to calendar

This presentation examines the health experiences of individuals recovered from Fort Michilimackinac, an 18th century French military and trading post in northern Michigan. The remains of twenty adults, a combination of Metis, European, and Native American individuals, were exhumed from underneath the fort’s church, Sainte Anne. Ages range from approximately 20 – 50 years; however most are younger and middle adults Sex determinations for the group were primarily male. Most in the population enjoyed relatively healthy childhoods. Hypoplasias were infrequent and of slight severity with ages at formation ranging broadly between two and five. A slight case of porotic hyperostosis was observed in only one of sixteen individuals. Frequencies for caries and antemortem tooth loss are relatively low, and periosteal lesions suggestive of infectious disease are rare. Arthritis in a mild form was extremely common, and in moderate or severe manifestations affected a third of the group. Trauma was also common with over half exhibiting some type of injury, and three of the seven experiencing trauma on multiple elements. One individual displays perimortem blunt force trauma and sharp trauma in conjunction with scalping. Another had severe osteomyelitis apparently associated with musket ball wound. These findings correlate with expectations for life on the frontier of New France. Food, especially protein, was plentiful, and population densities were low. Adult health, however, indicates that life at the fort was incredibly hard on the people there shown by high rates of both trauma and arthritis on a population of primarily younger and middle adults.

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