• Bone As A Biomarker Of Mercury Exposure In Prehistoric Arctic Human Populations: Initial Method Validation Using Animal Models

      Halffman, Carrin M. (2009)
      Marine mammals are dietary staples among many indigenous peoples of the Arctic, but these foods sometimes contain high levels of mercury, a toxic heavy metal that can cause nerve and brain damage. Because mercury can be released into the environment by both industrial and natural processes, prehistoric marine mammal consumers may have been exposed to this toxicant, but little is known about preindustrial mercury levels. This research examined the potential for using the mercury concentration of archaeological bone as a biomarker of mercury exposure. Two requirements of valid biomarkers of exposure were explored: (1) measurement accuracy (trueness and precision) and (2) correspondence with the extent of exposure. Measurement accuracy was evaluated using repeated determinations of mercury concentration in a sample of modern seal bones. Correspondence with exposure was examined by comparing bone mercury concentration to controlled exposure level in laboratory rats, and to the stable nitrogen isotope ratio (delta15N) (a proxy measure of exposure) in prehistoric ringed seals from Thule-period archaeological sites in Alaska. Results show that mercury measurements have acceptable accuracy and that bone mercury is strongly related to exposure. These promising results suggest that, with further validation on human subjects, bone mercury may provide a reliable archive of mercury exposure in preindustrial archaeological populations.
    • Diet And Dental Health In Predynastic Egypt: A Comparison Of Hierakonpolis And Naqada

      Greene, Tammy Renee; Irish, Joel D. (2006)
      Seven dietary indicators on 364 dentitions of working class Predynastic Egyptians from Hierakonpolis and Naqada are examined in this dissertation. The majority of the samples from both sites date to the Naqada 11 period (3500-3200 BC), during which these were the two main urban centers for Upper Egypt. Both sites are located on the west bank of the Nile approximately 130 km from one-another. The samples consist of adults and juveniles ranging from 6 years to over 50 years of age. The dietary indicators, which include caries, calculus, abscess, periodontal disease, macrowear, microwear, and hypoplastic enamel defects are used to look for statistically significant differences between working class inhabitants of the two sites as well as between the sex and age groups within each site. The analysis is used to address four main research questions. (1) What combination of the above indicators is the best for establishing an overall picture of diet and dental health? Results illustrate the importance of using a wide array of indictors. (2) Which of the available flora and fauna were being eaten? While each specific food could no be identified individually, cultivated items, such as wheat, barley or millet were being eaten in the form of bread, that raw vegetables were consumed by all individuals at Hierakonpolis but mostly women and children at Naqada, and that at least some meat and/or fish was consumed at both sites. (3) Were food types found as burial offerings were being eaten? Consumption of at least two burial offerings, bread and yellow nutsedge (Hierakonpolis only), are supported by the data. (4) Were the working class inhabitants of Hierakonpolis and Naqada consuming the same diet? Differences and similarities in the diet and dental health between inhabitants of the two sites are examined. While the major portions of the diet appear to be similar, this study found both dietary and behavioral differences between the working class members of these sites.
    • Health And Empires: Implications For Political Development On The Health Of The Inhabitants Of Great Moravia (9Th--10Th Centuries)

      Ellicott, Megan Michelle (2012)
      The early medieval period was a time of great change in Europe. Politically thee empires ruled Europe: Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. During this time early cities began to form in Europe, and new patterns of settlement developed. Great Moravia was a state level society in the southeastern region of the Czech Republic during the late 9th and early 10th centuries. This thesis explores the impact of urban development on the health of its inhabitants. In order to do this, rural (Josefov and Lahovice) and urban (Mikulcice-Kostelisko) skeletal populations were examined for cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, and linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH). Cribra orbitalia had a consistently low frequency in all populations. This suggests that anemia (often due to chronic parasitic infection and subsequent malnutrition) was present, but at a low level. LEH frequency was significantly higher, with more age of occurrence variation in the urban population. The results of this thesis suggest that despite the advantages of greater wealth and access to greater amount of food (and food varieties) urban populations were under more stress than rural populations. These results have implications about the impact of urban development and migration in modern developing nations.