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Ref ID: 36419
Ref Type: Thesis
Authors: Douglas, Michele Toomay
Title: Paleopathology in human skeletal remains from the Pre-Metal, Bronze, and Iron ages, northeastern Thailand
Date: 1996
Source: Anthropology
Place of Publication: Honolulu
Publisher: University of Hawaii
Type: Ph.D
Notes: Unpublished
Abstract: The traditional bio-archeological model of human health and disease holds that movement of human populations from a hunter-gatherer economy to sedentary agriculture results in a decline in health. Using a suite of skeletal indicators of physiological stress, this model has been tested on archaeological populations world-wide, but has seen limited application in Southeast Asia. Skeletal samples from two archaeological sites in northeast Thailand, Ban Chiang and Non Nok Tha, which span this transition during the pre-metal, bronze, and iron age periods, are examined relative to two hypotheses: (1) ancient inhabitants of the region have low prevalences of skeletal stress indicators, and (2) stress indicators increase over time. Paleodemographic estimators are comparable in the two groups and suggest the populations were stationary or slightly declining. The frequencies of dental pathologies are consistent with a 'pre-agricultural' economy, even in the later phases of occupation. Skeletal evidence of anemia is noted in both samples, but pathognomonic evidence of genetic anemia is not. Mean cranial vault thickness measurements are consistent with other neolithic populations. Advanced osteoarthritis is rare in these samples, but slight osteoarthritic changes are common in both the appendicular and vertebral skeleton. Healed fractures, including the cranial vault, ribs, radius, vertebrae (including spondylolysis), and long limb bones, are consistent with accidental injury. Evidence of infectious disease includes the presence of residual childhood ear infections, uncommon occurrences of non-specific skeletal lesions, and probable tuberculosis in the later phases at Non Nok Tha. Temporal analysis demonstrates a general continuum of increasing frequencies of the majority of indicators beginning with the early phases at Non Nok Tha and ending with the later periods at Ban Chiang, which correspond to cultural, environmental and technological transitions evident at both sites. Sex differences noted in the prevalence of many of the stress indicators, and variation in the temporal trends suggest differential gender activities and/or access to food resources. The more dramatic effects of human domestication seen in other regions of the world are not found in these sites, perhaps reflecting the maintanence of a broad-ranging economy.
Date Created: 6/4/2001