Enthesopathy Formation in the Humerus: Data from Known Age-at-Death and Known Occupation Skeletal Collections

Centre for Research in Anthropology, 1600-083 Lisbon, Portugal.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Impact Factor: 2.51). 01/2009; 141(4):550-60. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21171
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Enthesopathies, in the guise of musculoskeletal skeletal stress markers (MSM), have been widely used to reconstruct activity levels in human skeletal populations. In general, studies have focused on their presence in the upper limb, which is used in the majority of daily activities. The aim of this study was to use some of the attachment sites on the humerus to explore the relationship between enthesopathy formation, activity, and the ageing process. The skeletal sample used in this study comprised male adult skeletons with known age-at-death and known occupations from the late-19th and early-20th century cemeteries in Portugal. The enthesopathies were recorded as either present or absent. Statistical analysis using Fishers exact tests and logistic regression was undertaken to determine whether associations could be found between specific activities or socioeconomic status (manual or nonmanual workers), and age and enthesopathy presence. Left and right sides were analyzed separately. Fisher's exact tests were used to determine the relationship between activity and enthesopathy, and they demonstrated no association between activity and enthesopathies (P > 0.01). The results of the logistic regression established that age was the single most significant factor in enthesopathy formation (P > 0.05). This study found that, in these samples, age-at-death, and therefore age-related degeneration rather than degeneration caused by activities, was the primary cause of enthesopathy formation. Considering the difficulties of reliably ageing adult human skeletal remains, this is a major issue for studies of activity using enthesopathies.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Entheseal changes are potentially useful tools through which the daily activity patterns of individuals within a population may be interpreted through the perspective of a bi-ocultural framework. Studying these patterns in Mycenaean Athens may assist in comprehending intensity of daily behavior of males and females. The upper limb bones of thirty four individuals from the skeletal collection of the Athenian Agora were studied in order to ascertain sex-and age-based differences in entheseal change patterns. The meth-odological approach implemented in this study differs from most previous studies in its analysis, as entheseal change scores were aggregated in groups that correspond to muscle movements. The results indicate that there is little significant overall sexual dimorphism of musculoskeletal entheseal change for this population sample when entheseal change is observed in individual muscle attachment sites. However, when the results are aggregat-ed into groups that correspond to upper limb movements, some differences in behavior between males and females emerge in the youngest available age category, which indicates a differentiation of roles without necessarily a significant difference in degree of rigor. This is consistent with existing knowledge of Mycenaean era Greek settlements. Further research into the utility and application of the aggregation utilized in this study is necessary. 1. INTRODUCTION Entheseal changes are frequently studied by bioarchaeologists in order to ascertain the behavioral trends of past populations. In this context, they are potentially useful tools through which the daily activity patterns of individuals within a population may be interpreted through the perspective of a biocultural framework. The study of entheseal changes in Greek populations is lacking from the international bibliography. Until now, scholars working with Greek populations have fo-cused on other pathologies such as osteoar-thritis, or systemic stress associated with disease or nutritional disruptions. The Late Helladic III skeletal remains associated with burials of the Athens Agora offer an opportunity to examine trends in physical activity from the perspective of division of labor and labor intensity. The present study attempts to document and interpret activity related changes, and possible sexual dimorphism of their expression , in muscle and tendon attachment sites of the bones of the upper limb in individuals of the Mycenaean era burials of the Athens Agora. The remains were studied in terms of sex and age based differentiation of entheseal change patterns. These remains have been studied extensively by J.L. Angel (1945). Initial findings of this current study were reported by the authors at the 19 th European Meeting of the Paleo-pathology Association (Mountrakis 2012). Much attention has been given to the proper study of entheseal changes recently. Many authors have contributed to the mul-tifactoral etiology of the formation and presence of entheseal variation such as age categorization of attachment sites and their anatomy (fibrocartilag-inous vs. fibrous entheses) (Villotte, 2006, 2009; Alves-Cardoso & Henderson, 2010; Villotte et al.,2010). Up until recently, it was common to come across the terms musculoskeletal stress markers, entheseal changes, activity related entheseal change markers, occupational stress markers, or enthesopathies, used interchangeably in the bibliography. For the purposes of this study, entheseal change is defined as any morphological change on the surface of bone as a direct result of physical exertion, or repetitive/habitual activities. While this study explores differences on occupational behavior that can be attributed to role differentiation and thus gender, the terminology utilized in this work will reflect biological sex, as is established by bioarchaeological methodology. Reference to the gender and social rank of the individuals that make up the skeletal sample is not possible as the artefactual data associated with the burials is limited and not utilized in the data analysis. Any references made to social gender will be done so in the context of relevant cited work where the authors utilize social terminology. Social rank cannot be used.
    Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 11/2014; 15(15 1):209-220. · 0.23 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Caribbean archaeological record requires immediate attention and protection. Development and natural forces have impacted archaeological sites, destroying or severely damaging them. The precolumbian site of Lavoutte, located in northern Saint Lucia, has been known as a major Late Ceramic Age (a.d. 1000–1500) settlement since the 1960s, but it has been damaged over the past decades by both natural and human processes. Multidisciplinary field and laboratory methodologies were implemented during a rescue project at the site from 2009 to 2010. This paper presents the results of collaborative efforts between local and international organizations. The first goal was to demonstrate the importance of protection and rescue of endangered archaeological sites. Secondly, we aimed to show that by adopting a multidisciplinary approach including artifact analysis, bioarchaeology, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, and geochemistry, severely damaged sites can be of significant informational value.
    Journal of Field Archaeology 08/2012; 37(3):209-225. DOI:10.1179/0093469012Z.00000000020
  • Source