Enthesopathies and activity patterns in the Early Medieval Great Moravian population: Evidence of division of labour



Bone remodelling in the areas of entheses is frequently supposed to be associated with physical stress and the activity patterns of ancient populations. The main aim of this study was to analyse the prevalence of enthesopathies among individuals living in different life conditions. A total of 197 individuals from the Early Medieval (9th century) Mikulčice site were analysed for enthesopathies - 117 adult individuals from Mikulčice castle and 80 individuals from its hinterland. While the inhabitants of the castle were probably ranked among the higher echelons of society, the hinterland was predominantly inhabited by a farming population. It is hypothesized that individuals from the castle were exposed to lower physical stress than individuals from the hinterland. 9 fibrocartilaginous entheses of the upper and lower limbs were evaluated. Enthesopathies occurred in at least one enthesis in 76% of individuals younger than 50 years of age. Significant differences were observed in the occurrence of enthesopathies between castle and hinterland. Males from the agricultural hinterland show the highest prevalence of enthesopathies of all the population groups, while the lowest prevalence of the marker was recorded in males from the castle. Females in the castle were more affected by entheseal changes than females from the hinterland. Sexual dimorphism was more evident in the hinterland. The present study confirmed presumptions based on the archaeological finds, especially for males. This hypothesis cannot be accepted for females. We may suppose that in the 9th century, women living in Mikulčice castle did not represent a privileged social class. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.