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Health in Southern and Eastern England: a perspective on the early medieval period

Arce, Alvaro Luis (2007) Health in Southern and Eastern England: a perspective on the early medieval period. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

The aim of this research was to study the health of the Early Medieval population (AD 450- AD1066) in southern and eastern Britain and compare the data to the preceding Romano-British (AD 43-AD 450) and subsequent Late Medieval (AD 1066-AD 1600) periods. The data considered in published literature (representing dental disease and stature) (Brothwell, 1961; Wells, 1963; Moore and Corbett, 71,73,75; Roberts and Cox, 2003) showed that health improved during the Early Medieval period. In this study, similar results were found. Results show that the prevalence of dental caries by individual and teeth affected decreased from the Romano-British (26.4% of individuals, 7.4% of teeth) to the Early Medieval period (15.4% of individuals, 3.1% of teeth) and then increased again during the Late Medieval period (35.5 % of individuals, 9.0 % of teeth). Stature data showed that male and female stature increased from the Roman- British period (1.68m for males and 1.57m for females) to the Early Medieval period (1.72m for males and 1.63m for females), but decreased during the Late Medieval period (1.71m for males and 1.59 for females).Data also demonstrated that during the Early Medieval period the rate of enamel hypoplasia increased, and that there was an increased age at death through time. In addition, the rate of cribra orbitalia and tibial periostitis decreased during the Early Medieval period and increased again during the Late Medieval period. Socio-economic contextual data were considered to identify the possible reasons for this trend in health. Aspects of the general living environment, climate, trade, diet and economy, occupation, social status, access to health care, religion and burial practices were studied. The possible reasons for this suggested improvement in health during the Early Medieval period were considered. For example, a diet low in carbohydrates and sugars count for the decrease of dental caries, an increase in the amount of stress" affecting people was associated to the rise of enamel hypoplasia. On the other hand, a balance diet and introduction of new genes are possible reasons for the increase in stature. In addition, a diet providing enough iron, hygiene, less obesity and less blood loss "episodes" was connected to the decrease of cribra orbitalia. The decrease of tibial periostitis was associated to a strong immune system and fewer injuries. The age at death profile confirmed that most males died at the young adult age and females at the young and middle adult age. The effects of psychological stress on the body were also investigated. The result demonstrated that evidence of mental illness need to be taken in consideration in paleopathological studies. And an alternative hypothesis to the results was also included. Durham 2007.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:49

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