• osteoporosis;
  • metacarpal;
  • radiogrammetry;
  • fracture;
  • paleopathology


Age-dependent cortical bone loss in adult females from a skeletal assemblage from 3rd–4th century AD England was studied using metacarpal radiogrammetry. Results showed reduced peak cortical bone thickness compared with modern subjects, and the magnitude of cortical bone loss in older females compared with their younger counterparts was greater than that documented for a modern reference population. An elevated prevalence of fractures classically associated with osteoporosis was also observed in the over-50-year cohort. The severity of osteoporosis in this group is difficult to explain in terms of extraneous factors relating to 3rd–4th century lifestyles. Given the important genetic component in osteoporosis, the results may indicate some inherent susceptibility in this particular population to the disease, and ways in which this possibility might be further explored are suggested. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.