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Keywords:

  • behavioral morphology;
  • humeral torsion;
  • fluctuating asymmetry;
  • weapon use;
  • archery

Abstract

This paper examines humeral cross-sectional properties in two different samples of later medieval date: a group of blade-injured males from the sites of Towton, North Yorkshire, and Fishergate in the City of York, England, and a comparative group of nonblade-injured males also from the site of Fishergate in York. CT image slices were taken of the humeral shaft at 20%, 35%, 50%, 65%, and 80% from the distal end to investigate population differences in levels and patterns of mechanical loading. Bilateral asymmetry is investigated and comparisons are made with different populations of varying activity levels. Architectural changes such as humeral torsion are also investigated to determine the relationship between architectural changes and biomechanical efficiency. Results show significant differences in diaphyseal robusticity between the Towton sample and the comparative population, as well as significant differences in diaphyseal shape both between limbs within the Towton sample and between blade-injured samples. Population differences were also identified in the level of bilateral asymmetry, further demonstrating the differences in movement and activity patterns both between and within samples. These variations may relate to distinctive, more strenuous weapon use and differences in strenuous movement patterns in the two groups. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.