By Mark N. Cohen, Gillian M. M. Crane-Kramer
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Extra info for Ancient Health: Skeletal Indicators of Agricultural and Economic Intensification
Wright (1997) found no deterioration of health over time in her Maya sample. Note, however, that most comparisons of hunter-gatherers and farmers use fairly late Mesolithic/Archaic hunter-gatherers. Comparisons between earlier Paleo hunter-gatherers and farmers might reveal health differentials greater than they now appear. -P. Bocquet-Appel; pers. comm. and Bocquet-Appel and Naji 2006). The most telling argument for overall decline in health with the development of farming (reflected in increased mortality) is the mathematics of compound population growth (analogous to compound interest).
Metabolic conditions, nutritional deficiencies, trauma, vascular disease, and normal growth and remodeling can cause periosteal new-bone formation (Greenfield 1969). A good counterexample drawn from recent literature in paleopathology is Ortner’s focus on scurvy as a probable cause of generalized periosteal reaction in children (Ortner et al. 2001). Many of Ortner’s examples come from maize-dependent groups, and deficiency diseases are an expected concomitant of dependence on stored staple foods.
Marriage patterns apparently were largely patrilocal, and biological distances generally reflect geographical and temporal isolation (Konigsberg 1988, 1990a, 1990b). However, sociopolitical boundaries, not simply geographical isolation, are part of the biological distance data from west-central Illinois (Konigsberg 1990a; Konigsberg and Buikstra 1995). An intriguing feature of Konigsberg’s work is the idea that a temporal trend is a possible confounding factor (one that Konigsberg removed from his analysis).