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

Skeletal Stress Markers in Korea’s Joseon Dynasty Population, and Their Relationship to Burial Types


Anthropology, Seoul National University

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The aim of this research is to examine whether there is an association between skeletal makers of physical activity (i.e., degenerative joint disease, enthesopathies, Schmorl’s nodes) and burial types (i.e., earth-pit and lime-mortar type) in the Joseon dynasty population, of Korea. We hypothesized that the skeletal markers related to physical activity would be differently represented along burial types of the dead.

To test the hypothesis, 170 individuals from Seoul, Korea (mid 15th – early 20th century) were examined. The frequencies of DJD, enthesopathies in the 6 peripheral joints (i.e., shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle), two types of vertebral DJD (i.e., intervertebral and apophyseal joints), and SN in the spine were analyzed. The association between the frequencies of pathologies and burial type was analyzed by the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test in which age and sex were controlled.

The results revealed that there is no significant association between DJD in the peripheral joints and SN, and their relationship to burial type. However, when it came to enthesopathies, the ulnar tuberosity in males and linea aspera in females showed a significant association with burial type. In the intervertebral joints, cervical and thoracic region of males and thoracic and lumbar region of females revealed a significant association with burial type. The apophyseal joints showed a significant association with burial type in only cervical region of males. These results enable us to understand the nature of skeletal markers of physical activity and make inferences about the lifestyle of the Joseon dynasty population of Korea.

This study was conducted by Brain Fusion Program Research Grant (2010) from Seoul National University.

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