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Keywords:

  • cortical bone;
  • lumbar canal narrowing;
  • mediaeval populations;
  • skull base height

Abstract

Age-dependent cortical bone loss was studied in two mediaeval Polish populations differing with regard to socio-economic status, as well as the intensity of the occurrence of skeletal indicators of living conditions in the early stages of ontogenesis (compression of the skull base and the narrowing of the lumbar vertebral canal). Cortical bone loss was analysed on the basis of the radiographs of the second metacarpal. Cedynia population (better living conditions) is characterized by higher arithmetic means for the height of the skull base in comparison with Słaboszewo group (low socio-economic status). In the case of the vertebral canal index, significant interpopulation differences apply only to men. Similar patterns of difference between groups under study regarding bone loss was also found. It turned out that males from Cedynia had more bone mass in adultus and maturus age categories; in females, these differences concern only adultus category. The study involved an analysis of a relationship between the characteristics measuring reactions to environmental stress in early stages of growth and the intensity of bone loss in adult life. We believe that the results presented justify a conclusion that both phenomena may be interrelated to a considerable degree. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.