The 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2019)


A bioarchaeology of care case study: Possible Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis from 14th-15th century Transylvania

KIRSTEN A. VEROSTICK1, KATHERINE M. PADULA1, DEVIN N. WILLIAMS1, ZSOLT NYARADI2, ANDRE GONCIAR3 and JONATHAN D. BETHARD1.

1Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 2Department of Archaeology, Haáz Rezső Múzeum, 3Department of Archaeology, Archaeo Tek-Canada

March 30, 2019 , CC Ballroom BC Add to calendar

Recently bioarchaeologists have started exploring questions related to impairment, disability, and care provisioning in the past. These analyses require that biological data from the skeleton are coupled with mortuary data and in some instances, documentary sources. Ultimately, this approach enables researchers to better understand disability in the past and explore how people would have cared for their community members.

This presentation presents a case study from the under-studied region of Eastern Europe. In the medieval village of Bögöz, located in the Transylvanian region of the Kingdom of Hungary, a set of human remains, identified as GR-13, were recovered from a medieval church cemetery during rescue excavations. Radiocarbon dating places GR-13 at approximately AD 1300 to 1415. GR-13 was a young adult female, between 18-25 years old at time of death. Sometime after burial, GR-13 was bisected by a pillar during church renovations. Due to the placement of the pillar, only a partially complete skeleton was recovered. GR-13 displays multiple pathological changes, including erosive porosity, and cystic and subchondral erosive lesions of major joint complexes, including the elbow and ankle. The pathologies present in GR-13 are highly consistent with a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Our analysis suggests GR-13’s everyday life would have been affected following the onset of JRA. Following Tilley’s Index of Care model, she would have needed assistance in procurement of food and water, and support in long-distance transportation for survival. The Index of Care provides a unique way to better understand disability in medieval Europe.