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Skeletal evidence of health and disease in pre-contact Alaskan Eskimos and Aleuts.
Am J Phys Anthropol. 1998 Sep;107(1):51-70
Publication Type
A. Keenleyside
Author Affiliation
Department of Classics, Royal Holloway College, University of London, Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom.
Am J Phys Anthropol. 1998 Sep;107(1):51-70
Publication Type
Bone and Bones - pathology
Health status
History, Ancient
Infection - history - pathology
Inuits - history
Life Style - ethnology
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Tooth - pathology
Tooth Diseases - history - pathology
Wounds and Injuries - history - pathology
There have been relatively few paleopathological studies of arctic populations to date, compared to other regions of North America. Studies aimed at elucidating patterns of health and disease in arctic peoples prior to contact and assessing inter- and intraregional differences in disease patterns have been particularly few. In the present study, five pre-contact skeletal samples (N = 193), representing 4 Eskimo populations from northern coastal Alaska and 1 Aleut population from the eastern Aleutian Islands, were examined macroscopically for the following indicators of health status: cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, trauma, infection, dental caries, abscesses, antemortem tooth loss, periodontal disease, and dental attrition. In addition, archeological and epidemiological data were used to help reconstruct the health of these populations. The goals of the analysis were 2-fold: 1) to assess the pre-contact health of North Alaskan Eskimos and Aleuts in order to provide a baseline comparison for the post-contact health of these groups, and 2) to determine if any differences in disease patterns exist between the Eskimos and Aleuts that might be related to differences in their physical environment, subsistence patterns, and cultural practices. The analysis revealed that both groups suffered from a variety of health problems prior to contact, including iron deficiency anemia, trauma, infection, and various forms of dental pathology. Statistical comparisons of the 2 groups revealed that Eskimos and Aleuts had different patterns of health and disease prior to contact. Most notably, the Aleuts had a significantly higher frequency of cranial trauma and infracranial infection than the Eskimos, while the latter had a significantly higher frequency of enamel hypoplasia. An examination of the physical and cultural environment of the 2 groups reveals several possible explanations for these differences, including warfare, subsistence pursuits, and housing practices. The documentation of these differences indicates that variability in pre-contact disease patterns can be identified between hunter-gatherer populations living in similar environments and exhibiting similar general lifestyles.
PubMed ID
9740301 View in PubMed
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