The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Coming Apart at the Seams: A Bioarchaeology of Care analysis of 50-59 year old female with tuberculosis from the Middle Archaic Midwest (6000 – 3000 BC)


Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Understanding how prehistoric communities provided healthcare for chronic illnesses is essential to understanding human behaviors surrounding poor health. Here, a Bioarchaeology of Care analysis is presented for a 50-59 year old female with a probable case of tuberculosis from the Middle Archaic (6000-3000 BC) hunter-gatherer community of Carrier Mills, Illinois. Over the course of her illness, she suffered from complete destruction and eburnation of her hip, femur, knee, and humeri which would have resulted in mobility impairments and difficulty completely daily tasks. Despite this, she survived to old age due to the accommodation and direct healthcare provided by members of her community. Initially, she would have needed accommodation for her fatigue and mobility impairments. However, as her disease progressed, she would have gradually required more accommodation of her differences and direct care as the destruction of her joints made traveling long distances increasingly difficult. Additionally, she was given a differential mortuary treatment facing East with a dear bone tube pendant that may have linked her to Southeastern concepts of birth and healing. Possibilities for spiritual healthcare provisioning are also discussed. A Bioarchaeology of Care analysis for this individual provides a more nuanced understanding of they ways that prehistoric Midwestern hunter-gatherers would have perceived, rationalized, and dealt with poor health.

Slides/Poster (pdf)