• bioarchaeology;
  • Ingombe Ilede;
  • Iron Age archaeology;
  • Isamu Pati;
  • pathology;
  • stature;
  • southern Africa;
  • Zambia


The Ingombe Ilede and Isamu Pati Iron Age sites in Zambia provide 47 human burials for analyses. Our new study provides demographic information (sex and age), evidence of trauma, infectious diseases as well as physiological and mechanical indicators of stress. We found a high mortality rate for infants and children. Most of the sample (65%) lacked indications of stress or infectious diseases, but a few had cribra orbitalia, osteoarthritis, osteophytosis and various dental pathologies. These conditions are known to be caused by diet, food processing, nutritional intake and cultural systems. In addition, there were low levels of degenerative joint disease and no evidence of trauma. The stature and body mass estimates show that these Iron Age people were similar in size and shape compared with contemporary South Africans. These data indicate a relatively healthy population with a well-balanced diet and low afflictions of infectious and parasitic diseases. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.