Nutritional and disease stress of juveniles from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt


  • S. M. Wheeler

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA
    • Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida, 4000 Central Florida Blvd, Phillips Hall 309, Orlando, FL 32816 USA.
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Bioarchaeologists use skeletal health indicators to measure how ancient populations adapted to their physical, cultural and biological environments. Skeletons of infants and children are rarely included in these kinds of analyses because of factors such as poor preservation, small sample size, incomplete recovery or research design. In this study, skeletal remains of juveniles aged from foetal to 15 years (N = 238) from Kellis 2, a Romano-Byzantine cemetery in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, are analysed to shed light on how infants and children were affected by Roman policies during the early years of the Christianisation of Egypt. Non-specific indicators of physiological stress (cribra orbitalia, enamel hypoplasia and osteoperiostitis) are analysed for post-natal individuals and interpreted in the context of the physical, cultural and biological landscapes. Results from these analyses suggest moderate levels of skeletal and dental stress with a marked improvement in general health from pre-Roman times. This study contributes to a better understanding of juvenile paleoepidemiology and mortuary practices in Egypt during the Romano-Byzantine period. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.