Comparative health from paleopathological analysis of the human skeletal remains dating the Hellenistic and Roman periods, from Paphos, Cyprus and Corinth, Greece
AdvisorBirkby, Walter H.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAncient ships transported not only goods around the eastern Mediterranean, but the people and the diseases they carried. The diseases to which people adapted often lived long enough for their effects to appear in bone. The focus of this dissertation is to discern the comparative health from paleopathological analysis of the human skeletal remains dating to the Hellenistic and Roman periods from Paphos, Cyprus and Corinth, Greece. The samples are comprised of minimally 275 individuals from 31 tombs at Paphos and 94 individuals from 32 bone lots at Corinth. Analytical techniques include gross morphological and metrical examination and radiography of select samples while using the Skeletal Database Committee Recommendations (Rose et al. 1991) as a guide. Limited molecular analysis is also employed. In addition to the identification of paleopathologies, the minimum number of individuals, age, sex, reconstructed stature, and anomalies are determined. The results of both sites are compared and the evolutionary implications of the identified paleopathologies are discussed. Six chapters are presented in this dissertation, including: an introduction; materials and methods; results from Paphos; results from Corinth; comparative results between the two sites; and the conclusions of this research. Results indicate that there was a greater prevalence of infant mortality at Corinth when compared to Paphos. Of those adults that could be aged, however, adults at Corinth lived longer. Stress, as evidenced by enamel hypoplasias, was more prevalent at Corinth, but dental caries were more prevalent at Paphos. Although cribra orbitalia, indicative of anemia, was present at both sites, porotic hyperostosis was identified only at Paphos, perhaps suggesting a different type of anemia at Paphos. Malaria and the thalassemias have been identified in modern times at both locales, but based upon the paleopathological results herein, there is no gross evidence of congenital hemolytic anemias at ancient Corinth. Assuming that the city was repopulated by local Greeks during the Roman period, it is hypothesized that at least up to this time, thalassemia was not a serious problem at Corinth as it likely was at ancient Paphos. Further molecular analyses could test this hypothesis.
Degree ProgramGraduate College