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

Changing Femoral Robusticity Between Medieval and Early Modern Denmark


Anthropology, University of Manitoba

April 17, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

The aim of this poster is to explore the transition in femoral strength and rigidity in medieval and early modern Denmark. Using two samples, the cemetery of Tirup (1150-1350 CE) and the Black Friars cemetery (1240-1607 CE), the cross-sectional geometric properties of the right femora were examined. Cortical areas (measures of compressive and tensile rigidity and strength), second moments of area (measures of maximum and minimum bending rigidity), polar second moments of area (measures of torsional rigidity), section moduli (measures of maximum and minimum bending strength), and polar section moduli (measures of torsional strength) were calculated from 212 CT scans. The geometric properties of the femora were examined at five locations along the femoral shaft (20%, 35%, 50%, 65%, and 80%) as well as at Ward’s triangle in the femoral neck in order to compare bone strength and rigidity between the medieval and early modern periods. Results indicate that male robusticity remained relatively consistent through time (although strength and rigidity increased significantly in the femoral neck). For females, a significant temporal increase in strength and rigidity (p<0.05) was noted along the femoral shaft and neck. In fact, when male and female robusticity was compared the distinction seen in the medieval period is obscured and female femoral strength and rigidity is nearly equivalent to that seen among the males in the early modern period. Results are discussed in the context of changing socio-economic conditions which worsened in the early modern period in Denmark.

This research was supported by SSHRC - SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (K. Parker - #752-2018-2041) and SSHRC Insight Grant (R. Hoppa - #435-2017-729).

Slides/Poster (pdf)