Comparison of child morbidity in two contrasting medieval cemeteries from Denmark
Article first published online: 25 JUL 2005
Copyright © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 128, Issue 4, pages 734–746, December 2005
How to Cite
Bennike, P., Lewis, M.E., Schutkowski, H. and Valentin, F. (2005), Comparison of child morbidity in two contrasting medieval cemeteries from Denmark. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 128: 734–746. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.20233
- Issue published online: 23 NOV 2005
- Article first published online: 25 JUL 2005
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 SEP 2004
- Manuscript Received: 7 JAN 2004
- EU Program Human Capital and Mobility. Grant Number: ERBCHRXCT 930193
- stress indicators;
- Later Medieval Denmark
This study compares associations between demographic profiles, long bone lengths, bone mineral content, and frequencies of stress indicators in the preadult populations of two medieval skeletal assemblages from Denmark. One is from a leprosarium, and thus probably represents a disadvantaged group (Næstved). The other comes from a normal, and in comparison rather privileged, medieval community (Æbelholt). Previous studies of the adult population indicated differences between the two skeletal collections with regard to mortality, dental size, and metabolic and specific infectious disease. The two samples were analyzed against the view known as the “osteological paradox” (Wood et al.  Curr. Anthropol. 33:343–370), according to which skeletons displaying pathological modification are likely to represent the healthier individuals of a population, whereas those without lesions would have died without acquiring modifications as a result of a depressed immune response. Results reveal that older age groups among the preadults from Næstved are shorter and have less bone mineral content than their peers from Æbelholt. On average, the Næstved children have a higher prevalence of stress indicators, and in some cases display skeletal signs of leprosy. This is likely a result of the combination of compromised health and social disadvantage, thus supporting a more traditional interpretation. The study provides insights into the health of children from two different biocultural settings of medieval Danish society and illustrates the importance of comparing samples of single age groups. Am J Phys Anthropol 127:, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.