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

Subsistence considerations based on the community health in the late prehistoric Thompson Village site from west-central Tennessee


Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State University

Thursday Morning, 301E Add to calendar

Thompson Village (40Hy5) is a Late Mississippian Period (AD ~1300-1400) site from west-central Tennessee in what is now the Kentucky Lake Reservoir. The health parameters examined in this sample (N=184, 132 adults, 52 subadults) are porotic hyperostosis (PH), cribra orbitalia (CO), periostitis, treponemal disease and, as Thompson village was arguably a maize-intensive agricultural community, a cursory survey for caries presence was also undertaken. Consistent with the agricultural subsistence economy, approximately half of all adults have caries. At least 3% of the adult sample have treponemal disease (sabre shins). Adding individuals diagnostically consistent with it (e.g., nodular expansion) elevates the prevalence to 8%. Some degree of non-diagnostic periostitis is present in the 0-5 age cohort (13%) and 14% of all adults. At least a quarter of the adult periostitis is a sequela of traumatic injury.

Twenty-two percent of subadults under the skeletal age of five display CO and 19% exhibit PH. Scurvy was observed in the sample and 15.4% of subadults and 4% of adults are identified as scorbutic. The 2 to 5 year-old cohort is particularly affected (28%) and likely synergistically relates to the frequency of periostitis. The prevalence of scurvy in these age cohorts is almost twice that reported from East Tennessee samples. Thompson Village inhabitants were evidently differentially stressed with respect to at least one aspect of diet and continued paleopathological assessment is merited.

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