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

Regional Health in Late Prehistoric East Tennessee: a meta-analysis of Dallas Phase sites


Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State University

Thursday Morning, 301E Add to calendar

Literature concerning the mid-to-late Mississippian period (AD 1200-1600) in East Tennessee describes a culture context typified by social differentiation, aggregate villages, intensive maize agriculture and a patterned co-occurrence of skeletal pathologies. These commonalities do not necessarily result in similar health profiles. Certain recent studies of East Tennessee site samples have revealed particular inter-site variability in health status (e.g., presence/absence of sex differences, presence/ absence of social role differences). Given demonstrable intra-regional ecological differences and perhaps sociopolitical heterogeneity, the intersite differences may vary by geography or culture context. A multiple site skeletal sample belonging to the same cultural phase (Dallas, AD 1300-1550) from three different geographical areas within East Tennessee was examined to determine if health differs significantly between local populations (intra-regional) and if those differences parallel inter-regionally with more distant populations in East Tennessee.

Six sites are surveyed from three reservoir locations totaling 1,073 skeletal remains. The sites are: Hiwassee Island, Sale Creek, and Hixon from the Chickamauga Reservoir; Citico and Toqua from the Tellico Reservoir; and Cox from the Melton Hill Reservoir. Health data collected consisted of cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, linear enamel hypoplasia, and periostitis. These were scored for presence-absence and severity. Results indicated that pathological prevalence and patterning showed more significant differences within a reservoir than between reservoirs. Commonalities which transcended distance include site size, length of site occupation, and date(s) of site occupation. The results also suggest that sociopolitical heterogeneity between the reservoir samples merits further evaluation.

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