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Keywords:

  • occupational stress;
  • musculoskeletal stress;
  • skeletal robusticity;
  • markers

Abstract

In his role as discussant of the papers presented at the symposium on Activity Patterns and Musculoskeletal Stress Markers: An Integrative Approach to Bioarchaeological Questions at the 66th Annual Meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists held in St. Louis, Missouri, on 4 April 1997, the author summarizes topics presented by the participants and others, discusses innovative methodological procedures and statistical approaches advanced by these contributors, and offers concluding remarks about the present status of studies of markers of occupational stress (MOS), which include investigations of specific markers of musculoskeletal stress (MSM) and degrees of skeletal robusticity (RM). The recent resurgence of interest in identification and diagnosis of habitual patterns of activity, as registered on bone and dental tissues, is exemplified in this collection of reports by scholars active in the fields of forensic anthropology, palaeodemography, palaeopathology and human skeletal biology. Earlier hypotheses are reassessed by new methodologies, but formulation of reliable standards for recognizing MOS and interpreting their underlying causes remains a challenge for the advancement of future research programmes. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.