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

History of health in the Chinese Bronze Age: Results from five seasons of the Mogou bioarchaeology project


1Anthropology, University of California, Riverside, 2McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, 3School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University, 4Archaeology, Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, 5Research Center for Scientific Archaeology, Fudan University

April 16, 2020 , Diamond 10 Add to calendar

From 2015-2019, the international team of the Mogou Bioarchaeology Project has collaborated with the Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology to examine the human remains from the large Bronze Age cemetery of Mogou (1750-1100 BCE), excavated between 2008 and 2012. The collection includes over 5000 sets of human remains of all age classes. The team has examined around 750 individuals for age, sex, postcranial metrics, oral health, and paleopathological lesions. The work is ongoing, but has so far revealed trends in health and demography that are suggestive of the interaction between social, environmental, behavioral, and biological factors. For instance, the prevalence of nonspecific indicators of physiological stress (41.6% of individuals with CO/PH, 43.1% of individuals with dental enamel hypoplasias, 47.1% of individuals with new bone formation on the appendicular skeleton) are higher than those at other published sites in the region. The population also seem to have experienced a notably high prevalence of interpersonal violence (11.4% of adults). The cemetery has also yielded individuals with lesions suggestive of a range of specific infectious, metabolic, and congenital illnesses (e.g. tuberculosis, scurvy, DISH, ankylosing spondylitis, carcinomas). This paper reviews the team’s findings so far and their significance for our understanding of Bronze Age Northwest China.

NAP Start-Up Grant, Nanyang Technological University; Chinese National Social Science Grant (18ZDA225); Esherick-Ye Family Foundation; AAPA Cobb; Association for Asian Studies; Banco Santander, University of Cambridge; LRCCS University of Michigan

Slides/Poster (pdf)