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Aspects of health and population studies in northern Europe between the tenth and twelfth centuries

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:42 authored by Sarah Patricia Tatham
This research project is an international study of certain aspects of health and population studies in 10--12th century populations of northern Europe by using skeletal remains from nearby European regions. They include England, France and Sweden. A total of 2,718 adult skeletons were analysed (and an additional 41 individuals were used for isotope analysis). Through the analysis of the skeletal remains and/or archival reports, information pertaining to health and diseases contact and exposure was collected by the process of calculating sex ratios and the age at death structure of each population. Prevalence rates of non-specific infections (periostitis, enamel hypoplasia and cribra orbitalia) and specific infections including tuberculosis, leprosy and chronic chest disease provided direct evidence of health.;The disease and lesion prevalence rates showed that there were no distinctive health differences between the regions, only a range of variation in the experience of health. The differences that were apparent were more to do with the nature of the settlements and their historical and socio-economic context, rather than their geographical location in Europe. Although current methodologies used to diagnose diseases have not proved to be applicable to their assessment of prevalence rates at the population level, this project has demonstrated that the northern European region could be perceived as a single geographical unit when assessing health in the past. It has provided a unique outlook on the range of past human life experience and identified evidence of the diversity that is potentially present in early medieval European populations.;To assess potential exposure to pathogens through contrast, population movement was investigated using isotope analysis in two skeletal assemblages. Although no immigrant component was detected, the use of this new tool to identify population profiles and local variability was established.


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University of Leicester

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