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

An examination of the variation in entheseal changes in human skeletal remains discovered in a 15th century necropolis in Mistihalj, Montenegro


1Anthropology, Boston University, 2Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine

April 17, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

This study examines the variability in enthesophytes on human skeletal remains in an archaeological collection from the former Yugoslavia. Twenty entheses on 125 individuals (f=42; m=83) from the Mistihalj, Montenegro collection housed at the Harvard University Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology were examined for entheseal changes (EC). EC, also known as musculoskeletal stress markers, have been utilized to aid in the reconstruction of past populations’ activity patterns. In particular, this study examined which variables (age, sex, body size) may affect EC expression for the investigation of the relationship between EC and activity patterns. EC scores were measured on a 0 to 3 scale and an aggregate EC score was generated for each individual. Humeral measurements were utilized as proxies to body size. Aggregate EC scores were found to correlate significantly with age (p<0.001), sex (p=0.005), and body size (p<0.001). However, after controlling for body size, aggregate EC score and sex were no longer significantly correlated (p=0.933). This suggests that differences in EC score between sexes are more likely due to body size rather than a sexual division of labor. Age also impacts seven EC scores, with age groups 16-24 years and 45-54 years showing the most difference. These results highlight some of the variables that may affect EC expression which is important when evaluating the relationship between EC and activity patterns. Though it is difficult to compare across studies due to a lack of standardization of methods, further research will examine similarities and differences between this population and others.

This research was funded by the Boston University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Slides/Poster (pdf)