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Durham e-Theses
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ALL OUT OF PROPORTION? Stature and Body Proportions in Roman and Early Medieval England

WALTHER, LAUREN,JO (2017) ALL OUT OF PROPORTION? Stature and Body Proportions in Roman and Early Medieval England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The transitional period between the Roman occupation of Britain and the creation of smaller kingdoms during the Early Medieval period is one that is heavily debated. The shift in material culture from the fifth century onwards suggests Continental influences, but the extent to which this represents large-scale migrations or acculturation by indigenous people is contested. New bioarchaeological and isotopic studies of skeletal remains demonstrate an improvement in health from the Roman to Early Medieval periods, along with greater evidence of a much more complicated picture with respect to the direct association of particular grave goods with migrants. This comprehensive analysis of stature, body proportions, and health stress from the Romano-British to Early Medieval period represents an additional bioarchaeological contribution to these debates.
A total of 1248 individuals excavated from 20 cemetery sites of Romano-British and Early Medieval date throughout southern and eastern England were analysed. Stature was examined as an indicator of health and growth as it is associated with childhood adversity, whilst body proportions can reflect adaptations to local environments. The stature and body proportions of individuals from all sites were determined through the reconstruction of living stature using Raxter et al.’s (2006, 2007) revised Fully anatomical method and through the analysis of a variety of indices. New mathematical regression formulae were created for each sample based on the reconstructed living stature. Comparisons of the anatomical and mathematical methods of stature calculation discovered a general overestimation of stature when the Trotter and Gleser, 1952, 1958 and Trotter, 1970 methods were used.
The use of different indices aided in the assessment of examining differential body proportions within and between periods. In combination with the skeletal indicators of stress recorded, shorter tibial lengths, lower crural and higher intermembral indices, and shortened relative lower limb lengths demonstrated the negative impact that Roman occupation had on the residents of Britain. An improvement in overall health was noted within the Early Medieval sample with a decreased prevalence of these stress indicators, as well as increases in indices and stature. This thesis demonstrates the usefulness of utilizing the anatomical method when estimating stature of past populations in conjunction with the analysis of body proportions and stress indicators.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Oct 2017 08:17

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