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

The relationship between age, sex and severity of arthritis in a turn of the century African American burial ground in Savannah, Georgia


Department of Anthropology, Georgia State University

Thursday 8:45-9:00, 200ABC Add to calendar

New South Associates, Inc. conducted two cemetery relocations at Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Georgia from 2006 to 2008. The cemetery population consisted of emancipated slaves from the late 19th to early 20th century. The cemetery at Area 1 (8CH1168) contained 40 individuals, while Area 2 (8CH875) contained 306 individuals for a combined total of 346 individuals. These remains were sexed and aged according to standard osteological methods. The severities of arthritic skeletal changes were scored using the Chicago Standards. The age intervals were converted to single numbers to identify potential relationships between sex and severity of skeletal degeneration and remodeling. A t-test between severity and sex revealed no significant relationship. However a general linear model which used sex as a categorical variable, and covariate of severity when compared to age, demonstrated a significant relationship (p < 0.001) and strong between-group differences (F = 17.189). A partial correlation between age and severity, controlling for the effects of sex, yielded a significant relationship (p < 0.001). Results suggest that when sex is held constant, age has a strong effect on severity of arthritis, but there is no significant relationship between females and males in severity of skeletal degradation. The laborious activities that the cemetery population likely participated in during life to cause such skeletal responses were examined through historical evidence in order to contextualize the data.

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