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

Patterns in the adult and subadult pathologies in the Late Prehistoric Hiwassee Island osteological sample from East Tennessee


1Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State University, 2Department of World Languages, Southeast Raleigh Magnet School

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The site of Hiwassee Island (40MG31) was apparently a strategically important pre-Columbian aggregate settlement based on the episodes of occupation and its island location at the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers (Chickamauga Reservoir). The site was one of few WPA Era salvage archaeological projects that merited a monograph (by T. Lewis and M Kneberg). However, little bioarchaeological analysis has been undertaken on the human remains. The Late Mississippian component (Dallas phase, AD 1300-1400) (N=175) was examined for basic health markers (LEH, periostitis, cribra orbitalia [CO], porotic hyperostosis [PH], longitudinal growth) and assessed by age and sex. Two adult age-at-death cohorts (<30 years, 30+ years) were defined.

CO was evident in 56% of subadults, PH in 41%, and periostitis in 17%. The post-weaning age subadult data revealed age progressive chronic health stress in conjunction with compromised growth. Males had a higher overall prevalence of anemia (PH or CO) (86.7% versus 68.2%) but when controlled by age, the sex difference was not significant. The adult sample has a 66.7% raw frequency of LEH with no significant difference by sex. Young adult age at death co-occurred with higher a prevalence of LEH (63% versus 35%).

The overall prevalences of the pathologies assessed are markedly higher in the Hiwassee Island sample relative to other Dallas phase samples in East Tennessee. This may reflect the eco-geographic particulars of the island or may relate to the abrupt socio-political reorganization of the Dallas phase in the Chickamauga Reservoir after circa AD 1400.

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