PETERSONE-GORDINA, ELINA (2018) Living outside the city gates: a palaeopathological, demographic, isotopic and comparative analysis of the post-medieval St Gertrude Church cemetery population in Riga, Latvia. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.
This research is based on 721 skeletons excavated from the complex site of the St Gertrude Church cemetery in Riga, Latvia, dating from the 15th - 17th centuries AD. The main aims of the analysis were to assess several aspects of physical health and diet of the local population and help to identify whether the people buried in two mass graves represent a different “population” group. To achieve these aims, both macroscopic and biogeochemical (isotopic) skeletal analyses were conducted.
The equal distribution of prevalence of dental disease suggest a similar diet in terms of the proportion of carbohydrates for the whole population. Adult dietary isotope analysis for 96 individuals does not reveal context-specific differences in values. Incremental dentine analysis for 19 children shows that non-adults in one of the mass graves experienced nutritional stress towards the end of their lives. Similar dietary profiles of some children from both mass graves suggest that they were members of the same community. Strontium isotope analysis for the same 19 children does not yield significantly different enamel ratios between the contexts and suggests that most children buried in the cemetery were likely from Riga. The analysis of evidence for compromised physical health shows that co-occurrence of cribra orbitalia and linear enamel hypoplasia may have predisposed children in the mass graves to higher frailty.
Comparison of St Gertrude’s cemetery population and other contemporary Baltic cemetery populations shows no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of dental disease. Stature estimates show that men in high-status groups were significantly taller than those buried in St Gertrude’s cemetery, while similar differences were not observed in women.
The scarcity of bioarchaeological research in Eastern Europe and the need for detailed and comparable data from the region makes this project an important contribution for future population health studies in this region and beyond.
|Doctor of Philosophy
|diet, dental disease, famine, stable isotopes, carbon, nitrogen, collagen, mobility, scurvy, rickets, compromised childhood health, maxillary sinusitis, non-specific periosteal lesions, heterogeneous frailty
|Faculty and Department:
|Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
|Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
|16 May 2018 08:39