Article

New Light on the "Dark Ages": The Remarkably Tall Stature of Northern European Men during the Medieval Era

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Abstract

Based on a modest sample of skeletons from northern Europe, average heights fell from 173.4 centimeters in the early Middle Ages to a low of roughly 167 centimeters during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Taking the data at face value, this decline of approximately 6.4 centimeters substantially exceeds any prolonged downturns found during industrialization in several countries that have been studied. Significantly, recovery to levels achieved in the early Middle Ages was not attained until the early twentieth century. It is plausible to link the decline in average height to climate deterioration; growing inequality; urbanization and the expansion of trade and commerce, which facilitated the spread of diseases; fluctuations in population size that impinged on nutritional status; the global spread of diseases associated with European expansion and colonization; and conflicts or wars over state building or religion. Because it is reasonable to believe that greater exposure to pathogens accompanied urbanization and industrialization, and there is evidence of climate moderation, increasing efficiency in agriculture, and greater interregional and international trade in foodstuffs, it is plausible to link the reversal of the long-term height decline with dietary improvements.

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... Esta correlação tem sido confirmada por vários autores e sugere que indivíduos pertencentes a classes sociais superiores alcançariam estaturas mais elevadas (Boldsen, 1990apud Cunha, 1994. Estudos mais recentes comprovam que valores na flutuação secular da estatura coincidem com tempos mais ou menos difíceis (Steckel, 2004). ...
... Este decréscimo na estatura entre estes dois períodos verificou-se essencialmente na Europa do Norte, onde ocorreu uma variação média de 6 cm. O motivo que conduziu a este declínio ainda está um pouco obscuro, no entanto, pensa-se estar relacionado com os seguintes factores: mudanças climáticas, desigualdades no crescimento, urbanização e aumento das rotas e comércio (que facilitaram a disseminação de doenças), mudanças no tamanho populacional (que alteraram o status nutricional), dispersão de doenças associada à expansão Europeia e colonização, conflitos e guerras religiosas ou consequentes da expansão dos territórios (Steckel, 2004). ...
... Este parâmetro é especialmente importante em estudos antropológicos, pois para além de classificar morfologicamente os indivíduos, funciona como um indicador do status económico (Ortner, 2003). Na Península Ibérica, durante a Idade Média, a altura média dos homens geralmente situava-se acima dos 165 cm, com uma diferença aproximada de 10 cm para o grupo feminino (Cunha, 1994 (Steckel, 2004). Por estas razões, foi testada a existência de diferenças estatísticas entre a estatura média dos enterramentos atribuídos à primeira (XIV-XV) e à segunda (XVI-XIX) fase de uso da necrópole. ...
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In this monograph we publish the results of the archaeological excavations undertaken in the Largo de Santa Maria de Graça, situated in the historical centre of the city of Lagos (Algarve, South Portugal). We excavated an extensive area of the Christian cemetery associated to the Santa Maria de Graça parish church, which was built in the 14th century and destroyed in 1755 through an earthquake. The cemetery was in use between the 14th and the end of the 19th century, when it was officially closed. The detailed excavation, mapping and analysis of the graves (more than 150) and other related contexts reveals interesting spatial patterns in the use of this burial ground through time. The cross-cutting of this contextual information with the results, concerning age and gender determination, of the anthropological study of the skeletons, provides some fruitful insights regarding gender, age, social norms and burial practices during this period. The intervention also included the excavation of the foundation trench of the preserved City-wall in this area and the study of its architectural features. Evidence suggests that this part of the City-wall was built during the early Modern period, involving the demolition in this sector of the pre-existing Mediaeval City-wall. One of the most singular features documented during this excavation were the deep fissures in the bed-rock caused by the 1755 earthquake, which were filled in with rests of the destroyed church and the sector of the cemetery affected.
... It is a direct and readily available measure of long-run, life-course health. Taller populations are generally richer populations, sufficiently so that height has been used to infer historical living standards (Floud, W?chter, and Gregory 1990;Fogel 2004;Steckel 1995Steckel , 2004. On average, taller individuals live longer and earn more, per haps reflecting their superior cognitive abilities (Case and Paxson 2008;Jousilhati et al. 2000;Leon et al. 1995;Waaler 1984). ...
... It is a direct and readily available measure of long-run, life-course health. Taller populations are generally richer populations, sufficiently so that height has been used to infer historical living standards (Floud, W?chter, and Gregory 1990;Fogel 2004;Steckel 1995Steckel , 2004. On average, taller individuals live longer and earn more, per haps reflecting their superior cognitive abilities (Case and Paxson 2008;Jousilhati et al. 2000;Leon et al. 1995;Waaler 1984). ...
... Although not shown in Table 2, the (1997 or 2000) Gini coefficient attracts a significant negative sign if introduced into either columns 1 or 5, but the country fixed effects remain significant even when the Gini (or geographical latitude) is introduced. The rationale for the role of income inequality in explaining height is the concavity of the height-to-income relationship at the individual level (see Steckel 1995Steckel , 2008, but it is not clear how to recon cile this rationale with the insignificance of national income in columns 6 through 8, nor is it obvious how to investigate the issue further without reliable and consistent cross-country time-series data on income inequality. We note also that Deaton (2008) found no consistent effect of consumption inequality on mean adult heights in India. ...
... have also published a widely cited volume on the study of skeletons from archaeological sites in the Western Hemisphere, and they also found a downward trend in health and stature of Native Americans over the millennia prior to the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Similarly, Steckel (2004) reported relatively high stature during the Middle Ages, especially for Scandinavian and North-western European populations, followed by a decline thereafter. Koepke and Baten (2005) further studied a new database of skeletons from all European regions, as well as grouped average data from excavation reports. ...
... Recently, Broadberry (2016) estimated Gross Domestic Product series (GDP, i.e., that total national income) reaching back to the thirteenth century for England, and to the late medieval period for the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy, based on an extensive and large dataset. Interestingly, these new estimates are more similar to the height series published earlier (Koepke and Baten, 2005;Koepke and Baten, 2008;Steckel, 2004). They also correspond with our new and more systematic estimates in this study. ...
... One suspects that the revival in trade and commerce and increased urbanization compromised human health. In northern Europe between 1500 and 1600, the numbers of people living in urban areas qua- drupled (Steckel 2004). Rapid rural to urban migration also intensified wealth, health and diet inequalities (Hoffman et al. 2002), and certainly increased urban slum populations. ...
... Although the number of individuals with compromised immune systems expanded as urban populations quadrupled from 1500 to 1600 (Steckel 2004), the return periods of plague lengthened. In fact, plague returned across Europe in the 14 th century to locales every 10 years or so, but by the 17 th century major cities were suffering from plague roughly once every 120 years (Cohn 2008). ...
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The book attempts to synthesis our current understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of plague, Yersinia pestis, and its environmental, political, economic, and social impacts from Ancient Greece to the modern day. This book also explores the identity of plague DNA, its human mortality, and the source of ancient and modern plagues. Welford also examines the role plague played in transfer of power from Mediterranean Europe to Northwestern Europe during the 500 years that plague raged across the continent until its European extinction in 1815. He also shows how recent colonial structures influenced the spread and mortality of plague while changing colonial histories. In addition, the Geographies of Plague provides critical insight into how plague has shaped modern medicine, public health, and disease monitoring, and what role, if any, plague might play as a terror weapon. The scope and breath of Geographies of Plague Pandemcis offers geographers, historians, biologists, and public health educators among many others the opportunity to explore the deep connections among disease and human existence.
... Therefore, the estimation of stature and its variations in time and space provide an important contribution to our knowledge of the living and health conditions of past and current populations (Larsen 2002;Formicola and Holt 2007). Indeed, stature plays an important role as an indicator of health status (Pietrusewsky and Tsang 2003;Maat 2005), social status (Bielicki and Szklarska 1999;Nyström Peck and Lundberg 1995), nutritional status and hygienic-sanitary conditions (Steckel 1995;Larsen 1997), micro-evolutionary trends in body size and proportions (Formicola and Giannecchini 1999;Steckel 2004;Gerhards 2005;Giannecchini and Moggi-Cecchi 2008), and sexual dimorphism (Gustafsson et al. 2007). Stature estimates also allow reconstruction of body mass, skeletal robusticity, and activity levels (Holt 2003;Ruff et al. 2005). ...
... According to Montanari (1988Montanari ( , 1994, the farmers in northern Italy ate better and in greater quantities during the Early Middle Ages than in the Roman Period or from the Late Middle Ages up to the first decades of the nineteenth century. The changes in agriculture, climate, economy, and population density (Steckel 2004;Gherards 2005;Baten 2005b, 2008;Barbiera and Dalla Zuanna 2009) in the Middle Ages may have contributed to an improvement of nutritional status. ...
Article
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Analyses of stature variation in prehistoric and historical populations encounter considerable problems of reliability of the comparisons. To properly compare the results of different studies, it is necessary to conduct a systematic review of the chronological and cultural context of the skeletal series used and identify the most appropriate method to calculate stature values, since stature reconstruction formulae are specific for certain times and places. Stature variations in the population of Sardinia (a Mediterranean island now part of the Italian Republic but considered separately given its unique genetic structure) from the Neolithic to the Modern Period were studied to evaluate the intensity of millennial changes. The results were then compared with the values of coeval skeletal series reported in the literature for other Southern European countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal). We used Sardinian skeletal series with radiocarbon dates or from culturally well-defined archeological contexts. The osteometric measurements were taken on femora of adults who had completed growth and who did not present evident pathological conditions. The data we collected and analyzed indicate that the conditions are lacking to reliably identify a common trend in millennial changes among the considered populations of southern Europe.
... On the basis of skeletal data, the average height in northern Europe in the Middle Ages was 173.4 cm during the period of warm climate in 900-1300 AD, which was beneficial for agriculture. 1 Subsequently, a period of colder climate (the Little Ice Age), which lasted for the following 400-500 years, led to a decrease in average height to 167 cm during the 17 th and 18 th centuries. 1 In the first half of the 18 th century, the average height of English men was still only 165 cm. 2 The estimated mean height of English, German, and Scottish soldiers ranged from 163.6 cm to 165.9 cm. 2 Most historical height data are collected on conscripts for military purposes, meaning that data on female heights are scarce. ...
... 1 Subsequently, a period of colder climate (the Little Ice Age), which lasted for the following 400-500 years, led to a decrease in average height to 167 cm during the 17 th and 18 th centuries. 1 In the first half of the 18 th century, the average height of English men was still only 165 cm. 2 The estimated mean height of English, German, and Scottish soldiers ranged from 163.6 cm to 165.9 cm. 2 Most historical height data are collected on conscripts for military purposes, meaning that data on female heights are scarce. Improved nutrition owing to advances in agricultural technologies and division of labour after the Industrial Revolution accelerated the increase in height in the 20 th century: in many industrialized countries, the average body height is now close to 180 cm among men. ...
Article
Meta-analyses and large population-based studies have linked shorter body height with increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). This complex association is now confirmed at the gene level, indicating that genetic variants affecting body height and associated with short stature seem to have independent roles as risk factors for CHD.
... Depending on their socio-economic, bio-cultural status [29][30][31], and impact of war [32], population groups throughout the world have shown diff erent secular trends in stature over the past century [29][30][31][32]. Steckel (2004) reported that the average stature in certain developed countries such as the UK, USA, Sweden, France, and Australia began to increase with the industrialization of the 19th century, with or without transient decreases beforehand, whereas the stature of the German population remained the same, with minor fl uctuations, until the beginning of the 20th century [33]. De Beer (2004) reported a sharp increase in the height of the Dutch population over the second half of the 19th century, with further progress continuing into the second half of the 20th century [34]. ...
... Depending on their socio-economic, bio-cultural status [29][30][31], and impact of war [32], population groups throughout the world have shown diff erent secular trends in stature over the past century [29][30][31][32]. Steckel (2004) reported that the average stature in certain developed countries such as the UK, USA, Sweden, France, and Australia began to increase with the industrialization of the 19th century, with or without transient decreases beforehand, whereas the stature of the German population remained the same, with minor fl uctuations, until the beginning of the 20th century [33]. De Beer (2004) reported a sharp increase in the height of the Dutch population over the second half of the 19th century, with further progress continuing into the second half of the 20th century [34]. ...
Article
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The aim of this study was to look for any secular trend in the stature of Balkan populations from the time of World War II (1939–1945) to the Balkans War (1991–1995). The research was based on the examination of exhumed skeletons of 202 men killed in World War II in the area of the Republic of Slovenia, and 243 men killed in the Bosnian War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The length measurements of the right and left humerus, femur, tibia and fibula were taken. Since the results revealed no significant differences and the left-sided bones were more complete and recurrent in the sample, the bones of the left side were used in the analysis. Since the increase in height depends mostly on the increase in length of the long bones, with an average absolute change of about 0.28 cm for humerus, 0.55 cm for femur, 0.49 cm for tibia and 0.20 cm for fibula per decade in our case, these results suggest a significant increase of the height of the Balkans population. The difference of the sum of the average femur and tibia length for the study period was 4.13 cm. Recalculated average length increase of the sum length of femur and tibia per decade was 0.88 cm for the left side. Our study revealed that there was a trend towards increased long bone lengths, at least in the male population analyzed.
... The evidence assembled thus far indicates that biological welfare declined after the Middle Ages and reached a nadir in France in the 17 th century. 7 Living conditions improved thereafter reflecting improvements in climatic conditions and concomitant agricultural productivity. Nonetheless, Europeans remained markedly shorter than the inhabitants of the New World throughout the 18 th century -by as much as 2.5-10 cm (1-4 inches) -and remained smaller than Americans during the subsequent two centuries. ...
... Minimum average height of 161.4 cm was recorded for Mesolithic males (Formicola & Giannecchini, 1999). Periods of shorter height have occasionally been reported from Medieval and early modern European populations (Koepke & Baten, 2005;Komlos & Cinnirella, 2005;ScienceDaily, 2021;Steckel, 2004) and from Japan shortly after the Edo-period (Kouchi, 2018). Very short height of certain populations has usually been ascribed to serious political turbulences, warfare, and subsistence crises, but not all members of groups that suffer from environmental crises suffer to the same degree. ...
Article
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Objectives Human body height differs within a wide range and has conventionally been associated with genetic, nutritional, and environmental conditions. In this study, we try to broaden this perspective and add the evolutionary aspect of height differences. Sample and Method We revisited height from archeological data (10 000–1000 BC), and historical growth studies (1877–1913). We analyzed height, weight, and skinfold thickness of 1666 Indonesian schoolchildren from six representative rural and urban elementary schools in Bali and West Timor with a stunting prevalence of up to 50%. Results Stature in the Holocene prehistory of the Near East and Europe varied with maxima for women usually ranging below 160 cm, and maxima for men between 165 and 170 cm. Stature never rose above 170 cm. European and white US-American schoolchildren of the 19th and 20th century were generally short with average height ranging between −1.5 and −2.2 hSDS, yet in the absence of any evidence of chronic or recurrent undernutrition or frequent illness, poverty, or disadvantageous living conditions. The same is found in contemporary Indonesian schoolchildren. Conclusion Stunting is frequently observed not only in the poor, but also in affluent and well-nourished social strata last 10 000 years. Only in very recent history, and only in a few democratic, modern societies, stature has increased beyond the long-lasting historic height average. Viewed from an evolutionary perspective, and considering adaptive plasticity of and community effects on growth, competitive growth and strategic growth adjustments, stunting appears to be the natural condition of human height.
... Steckel, R., in the work New Light on the "Dark Ages": The Remarkably Tall Stature of Northern European Men during the Medieval Era, states that average heights fell from 173.4 cm in the early Middle Ages to a low of roughly 167 cm during the 17th and 18th centuries, based on a sample of skeletons from northern Europe [39]. Unfortunately, further studies on the human body proportions of that time have not been found in the literature. ...
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The Renaissance treatise De Re Metallica (Georgius Agricola, 1556) is one of the first works that deals in detail with the state of the art of metal mining, compiling the main techniques and mechanical devices used in this industrial activity at that time. An advanced knowledge of the human machine set is observed in this treatise, from a mechanical and ergonomics point of view. The main objective of this work is to carry out an ergonomics analysis of one of the mechanical devices collected in the sixth book of this treatise. It is intended to show that there was a certain concern for ergonomics in the Renaissance, long before the first appearance of this concept. Specifically, a mine water extraction pump, powered by three different systems, is analyzed. Current ergonomics assessment methods have been used to perform this comparative analysis. The postural load has been assessed by the rapid upper limb assessment (RULA) and the rapid entire body assessment (REBA). The Check List OCRA (occupational repetitive action) has been used to perform the analysis of repetitive movements. The results have shown an evolution of the machine, not only on a mechanical level, but also in movements, postures, and safety of the operator for the three methods applied. It is, therefore, an example of practical and real ergonomics applied to machine design dating from the 16th century. In addition, this work may be a very interesting tool for teaching, since it allows showing examples of ergonomics in productive areas related to historical context.
... If health is deteriorating, we would expect an increase in LEH prevalence. This hypothesis is inspired by the downward trend in health observed for the History of Health in the Western Hemisphere Project (Steckel and Rose, 2002;Larsen et al., 2002) and the downward trend in human stature found for European populations (e.g., Steckel, 2004;Koepke and Baten, 2005;Meinzer and Baten, 2016). We also determine and discuss whether LEH prevalence was higher in people living in rural or urban environments, and whether and why this changed over time. ...
... Similarly, Steckel and Rose (2002) argued that the Western Hemisphere also experienced a decline in health over a very long period of time (for European heights see Steckel, 2004;Koepke and Baten, 2005;. For most of the population, this health decline and the worsening of nutritional quality was probably the dominant effect, whereas a small part of the elite might have had better welfare during this period. ...
... During the past 20 years, climatic change as an explanatory factor behind changes in nutrition, and thus stature, has increasingly entered anthropometric research. The long-term decline in body height in medieval northern Europe partly corresponded to the long-term decline in temperature as average male height was largest during the warm ninth-eleventh centuries and lowest during the cold seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Steckel, 2004). For the eighteenth century in southern Germany and other regions mild winters had a positive influence on nutrition compared to colder winters as elsewhere in eighteenth century Europe (Baten, 2002), with male stature being lowest among those born during the food crisis in 1771/1772 (Baten, 2001). ...
Article
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This article evaluates 165 studies from various disciplines, published between 2000 and 2019, which in different ways link past climate variability and change to human history in medieval and early modern Europe (here, c. 700–1815 CE). Within this review, we focus on the identification and interpretation of causal links between changes in climate and in human societies. A revised climate–society impact order model of historical climate–society interactions is presented and applied to structure the findings of the past 20 years' scholarship. Despite considerable progress in research about past climate–society relations, partly expedited by new palaeoclimate data, we identify limitations to knowledge, including geographical biases, a disproportional attention to extremely cold periods, and a focus on crises. Furthermore, recent scholarship shows that the limitations with particular disciplinary approaches can be successfully overcome through interdisciplinary collaborations. We conclude the article by proposing recommendations for future directions of research in the climatic change–human history nexus. This article is categorized under: • Climate, History, Society, Culture > Ideas and Knowledge Abstract (A) Temporal coverage of the 165 studies examining associations between climatic variations and human history for different regions between 700 and 1815 CE which were reviewed considering (B) a revised schematic model of historical climate–society interactions.
... If health is deteriorating, we would expect an increase in LEH prevalence. This hypothesis is inspired by the downward trend in health observed for the History of Health in the Western Hemisphere Project (Steckel and Rose, 2002;Larsen et al., 2002) and the downward trend in human stature found for European populations (e.g., Steckel, 2004;Koepke and Baten, 2005;Meinzer and Baten, 2016). We also determine and discuss whether LEH prevalence was higher in people living in rural or urban environments, and whether and why this changed over time. ...
... Onderzoek naar de gemiddelde lichaamslengtes van Noord-Europese mannen vanaf de middeleeuwen tot aan de negentiende eeuw laat een duidelijke afname in lengte zien, vooral in de zeventiende en achttiende eeuw; pas aan het einde van de negentiende eeuw krabbelde de gemiddelde lichaamslengte weer een beetje omhoog (tabel 2). 64 Als de levensomstandigheden in een laatmiddeleeuwse stedelijke omgeving inderdaad slechter waren dan op het platteland, dan is te verwachten dat stedelingen gemiddeld kleiner waren dan de inwoners van de rurale gebieden. ...
Article
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In early modern European cities deaths outnumbered births, a phenomenon commonly referred to the urban graveyard effect. While most of the research concerning this concept is focused on the modern period, the results are regularly extrapolated to the late medieval towns in Europe. By studying health and disease in human skeletal remains from three different rural and urban collections in Holland and Zeeland, this research will bring to light medieval disease patterns in both town and country. In doing so, this study will be able combine biological information of individuals with historical contextual information and can thereby contribute to the urban graveyard debate.
... Because body height is considered a reliable indicator of childhood living conditions, scholars frequently use stature as an indirect measure of living standards in past populations (Koepke and Baten 2005;Macintosh et al. 2016;Steckel 2004) or in modern populations for which there is little direct information (Jenkins 1981;Micklewright and Ismail 2001). Previous research has demonstrated a negative relationship between adult stature and health-related quality of life in contemporary England (Christensen et al. 2007). ...
... The Early Modern period stature decline is also consistent with earlier studies based on historical stature data (e.g., Steckel, 2004;Koepke and Baten, 2005), as well as records on famine (Muroma, 1991). For example, French men had an average height of only 161.7 cm during the 17th century (Komlos et al., 2003). ...
Chapter
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This chapter assesses temporal and geographic variation in body size and body shape in Europe from the Early Upper Paleolithic to recent times. It reviews some more general principles underlying variation in body form, as well as providing a brief summary of the population history of Late Pleistocene/Holocene Europe. Genetic variation may also have been introduced by partial population replacement across the Last Glacial Maximum (the LGM), as well as across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. Body size very clearly declined and body shape changed across the LGM. At the global level, geographic variation in body size, and especially in body shape, is in part due to genetic differences acquired via long-term natural selection to produce adaptation to different thermal environments. However, genetic adaptations must also have played some role, as indicated for example by the fact that North/Central Europeans of all time periods tend to have relatively shorter tibias than Mediterranean Europeans.
... For all three osteometric measurements in both males and females, all identifiable hot spots of larger osteometric values are located within the church walls, while all identifiable cold spots are located outside of the church walls. These findings are consistent with the expression of different growth outcomes in response to differential access to resources (e.g., Gunnell, Rogers, & Dieppe, 2001;Maat, 2005;Pietrusewsky and Tsang, 2003;Pietrusewsky et al., 1997;Steckel, 2004;Wright & Yoder, 2003). Arguably, individuals with lower osteometric values likely experienced limited access to resources, 3.4 | Results of spatial analyses using z-scores Table 5 presents basic summary statistics for osteometric measurements and calculated z-scores for female and male subsamples included in the analyses. ...
Article
Objectives: Socioeconomic status differences in skeletal populations are often inferred from skeletal indicators of stress and burial location. However, to date, the association between osteometric parameters and spatial location in relation to socioeconomic status in medieval Italy has not been explicitly tested. Materials and methods: This study examined the spatial distribution of osteometric data in the medieval (8th-13th c.) cemetery of San Michele di Trino (Trino Vercellese, VC, Italy) to determine whether skeletal correlates of socioeconomic status correspond with privileged burial locations. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that greater growth outcomes are associated with privileged burials located inside the church by examining osteometric data (femoral bicondylar length [N = 74], maximum tibial length [N = 62], and the sum of the two measurements [N = 59]) in a geographic information system (GIS) of the cemetery. Results: Getis-Ord G Hot Spot analysis identified significant (90% CI) spatial clustering of high osteometric values within the church, while low values clustered in areas of the cemetery farther from the church. These results, supported by the results of interpolation analyses, became more pronounced when z-scores were calculated to combine the male and female samples and the analyses were repeated. Discussion: Overall, the findings corroborate the observation that the spatial distribution of osteometric data reflects socioeconomic status differences within the population. This research exemplifies the advantages of integrating bioarchaeology and spatial analysis to examine mortuary behavior and health outcomes in highly stratified societies where access to resources is demarcated in both life and in death.
... This is only slightly shorter than in Vronen, where the females had an average stature of 165 cm (Alders and van der Linde 2011). Even though only a small number of individuals from both sites could be assessed, the average stature for males from Blokhuizen and Vronen is comparable with the average height of other skeletal collections from the same time period (Maat 2005;Steckel 2004). Table 6.1 displays the male stature trend in northern Europe based on skeletal collections from Scandinavia, The Netherlands, and Britain through time. ...
Thesis
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This research investigates the impact of socioeconomic developments on the physical condition of medieval populations in Holland and Zeeland between AD 1000 and 1600 through the analysis of human skeletal remains from three archaeological sites. In a brief period of time, this region went from being scarcely populated to an area characterised by expanding urban centres and flourishing trade systems. These large scale developments had an impact on the daily lives of medieval people. Focusing on several skeletal indicators of disease, activity, and diet, this research has studied the physical consequences of medieval socioeconomic developments from a hitherto unexplored perspective. Although differences are observed between the skeletal collections, the key finding is the absence of a marked distinction between town and country. The noted variations in skeletal indicators of disease, activity, and diet are minor and do not support the traditional idea that towns and villages in medieval Holland and Zeeland had become worlds apart. While urban living is frequently associated with negative consequences, this is not supported by this research. Especially in terms of disease, a more nuanced view is necessary. While the risks appear to have been different, one living environment cannot be considered better than the other.
... Some of these transitions were sweeping, marked, and well-documented (e.g., Christianization, marketization, and urbanization), while others were regional, small-scale, and undocumented. Related changes in settlement structure, occupational differentiation, and food access through trade are reasoned to impact human diet and health by affecting nutrition, disease transmission and resource access (Steckel, 2004). Archaeological medieval diet reconstructions point to a considerable range of variation in human diets in the first two millennia CE. ...
... The fact that information on body height is not only archived in major sources of historical anthropometry, such as military conscripts or prisoner lists, and also in human skeletal remains, has led to a number of studies by economic historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists in which the development of body height using archaeological data is investigated (e.g., Angel 1984;Bach et al. 1985 andsimilar Jaeger et al. 1999;Bennike 1985;de Beer 2004;Formicula and Giannecchini 1999;Güleç 1989;Haidle 1997;Helmuth 1965;Hiramoto 1972;Huber 1968;Köpke 2008 and similar Köpke and Baten 2005;Kunitz 1987;Lalueza-Fox 1998;Schröter 2000;Siegmund 2010;Steckel 2004;Waldron 2001;Wurm 1982; cf. the list in Köpke 2008:2). Several of these studies have also discussed aspects of sex dimorphism (Köpke 2008;Lalueza-Fox 1998). ...
Chapter
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Burials of children are an excellent source for both the archaeology and the physical anthropology of childhood. The information that they provide, however, is only part of the picture: while the biological age can be assessed quite precisely, the determination of sex is difficult for infants unless high‑cost analyses on ancient DNA are undertaken. For this reason, so far gender- and sex‑related questions pertaining to prehistoric times have hardly been resolved. Moreover, children’s burials represent only those individuals who did not survive childhood and thus are to be regarded as a biased sample. Adult burials, on the other hand, represent the survivors and therefore complement our sample. They also preserve a variety of physical information on living conditions during childhood and youth, because the growth of bony structures only lasts until the fusion of the dia- and epiphyses. Some of this information, such as enamel hypoplasia, is precisely datable within an individual’s childhood, while other information, such as body height, represents the net nutrition throughout childhood and youth of an individual. Drawing on concepts of the biological standard of living and anthropometric history that have been developed in the field of economic history, this chapter examines the value of adult skeletons as an archive of prehistoric childhood and youth in a long‑term perspective, extending from the Palaeolithic period up to ca. 1000 B.C. and using multivariate models. Thereby, special attention is paid to the fact that the sex of adult skeletons can—provided that the diagnostically relevant skeletal areas are preserved—be easily distinguished using morphological criteria, thus enabling us to explore possible sex and gender differentiations in childcare and nutrition as reflected in body height dimorphism.
... 200-0 BC (Lo Cascio and Malanima, 2005;Barbiera and Dalla-Zuanna, 2009). In general, populations in the medieval period may have been more wellfed and healthier than they were in the Roman period (Montanari, 1988;Steckel, 2004;Koepke and Baten, 2008;Barbiera and Dalla-Zuanna, 2009). Late weaning in the medieval period may help explain the paradox of why apparently healthier living conditions were not accompanied by rapid population gains, but additional evidence is warranted. ...
Article
Objectives: Early-life nutrition is a predisposing factor for later-life outcomes. This study tests the hypothesis that subadults from medieval Trino Vercellese, Italy, who lived to adulthood consumed isotopically different diets compared with subadults who died before reaching adulthood. We have previously used a life history approach, comparing dentine and bone of the same adult individuals ("subadults who lived"), to elucidate dietary variation across the life span. Here, we examine diets of "subadults who died" from the same population, estimated from subadult rib collagen, to explore whether dietary behaviors of subadults who lived differed from those of subadults who died. Methods: Forty-one subadults aged six months to 14.5 years were studied through stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of collagen. Results: Individuals were weaned by age 4 years, with considerable variation in weaning ages overall. Post-weaning, diets of subadults who died comprised significantly less animal protein than diets of subadults who lived. Isotopic values of the two oldest individuals, 13.5 and 14.5 years, show the same status-based variation in diet as do adults from the population. Conclusions: Our results suggest that incorporating animal protein in diet during growth and development supported medieval subadults' ability to survive to adulthood. Isotopic similarities between adults and older subadults suggest "adult" dietary behaviors were adopted in adolescence. Stable isotope evidence from subadults bridges a disparity between ontogenetic age categories and socioculturally meaningful age categories in the past, and sheds light on the underpinnings of health, mortality, growth, and disease in the bioarchaeological record. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
... A new increase (up to $169 cm) came during the 3rd millenium BC with the advance of Eneolithic cultures (Corded Ware culture, Bell-Beaker culture) (Vančata and Charvá tová , 2001;Dobisíková et al., 2007) and it is tempting to speculate that it was just in this period, when beneficial genes of lactose tolerance spread in Central and Northern Europe, because their origin is placed in the Neolithic era (Itan et al., 2009). During the next millenia, stature of Europeans changed mostly due to climatic conditions and usually remained within the range of $165-175 cm (Hermanussen, 2003;Steckel, 2004;Koepke and Baten, 2005;Mummert et al., 2011 etc.). ...
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The aim of this study was to identify the most important variables determining current differences in physical stature in Europe and some of its overseas offshoots such as Australia, New Zealand and USA. We collected data on the height of young men from 45 countries and compared them with long-term averages of food consumption from the FAOSTAT database, various development indicators compiled by the World Bank and the CIA World Factbook, and frequencies of several genetic markers. Our analysis demonstrates that the most important factor explaining current differences in stature among nations of European origin is the level of nutrition, especially the ratio between the intake of high-quality proteins from milk products, pork meat and fish, and low-quality proteins from wheat. Possible genetic factors such as the distribution of Y haplogroup I-M170, combined frequencies of Y haplogroups I-M170 and R1b-U106, or the phenotypic distribution of lactose tolerance emerge as comparably important, but the available data are more limited. Moderately significant positive correlations were also found with GDP per capita, health expenditure and partly with the level of urbanization that influences male stature in Western Europe. In contrast, male height correlated inversely with children's mortality and social inequality (Gini index). These results could inspire social and nutritional guidelines that would lead to the optimization of physical growth in children and maximization of the genetic potential, both at the individual and national level.
... A further possibility is that calorie requirements were lower in earlier centuries because people were smaller. However, hard evidence for this is lacking (compareKoepke and Baten 2005;Steckel 2004). Even if it were the case, the reduction in calories required for survival would have been modest. ...
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Carefully constructed but fallible historical estimates of GDP and agricultural output inform our understanding of the preindustrial origins of economic growth. Here we review four recent attempts at estimating agricultural output and food availability in England and Wales at different points between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution. We highlight their contrasting implications for trends in well-being and nutritional status over time. Building on these estimates, we propose our own tentative, compromise estimate of food availability. The compromise estimates are more coherent with our understanding of conditions before and during the Industrial Revolution.
... Entre los siglos ix al xviii se produjo un descenso significativo de la talla, que alcanzó los 7,4 cm en las poblaciones del norte europeo. La Edad Media no fue una edad tan «oscura»' como había supuesto la historiografía, al menos en términos de salud nutricional (Steckel y Rose, 2002;Steckel, 2004;Komlos y Baten, 2004;Koepke y Baten, 2005;Cardoso y Garcia, 2009). ...
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This article explores secular changes in the biological well-being of Europeans and relationships between economic growth and human development. With male height data of military recruitment and several national surveys on health and height-by-age data from the European Community Panel, heights trends in the last three centuries are reconstructed. The results show, on the one hand, the strong growth of the European population stature from the 1850s onwards, after a period of height deterioration with unequal intensity in the majority of countries between 1750 and 1850. On the other hand, it shows the persistence of territorial disparities in height since the eighteenth century. It demontrates the inequality was mainly associated to long-term environmental and socioeconomic factors. It concluded that the fantastic height increase was a physiological revolution linked to processes of economic growth, industrialization and urbanization, but mainly to improvements in nutrition, income, education, and public health.
... Shrinkage during the Industrial Revolution is only the best known case. For an earlier example, witness the drop in stature in Northern Europe from the Middle Ages to the early modern period: see Steckel 2004. Mats 2003, commenting on the secular trend of gradually diminishing Dutch body height from the Roman period into the nineteenth century (ibid. ...
Article
This paper responds to recent scholarship by Willem Jongman and Geoffrey Kron that has tried to make a case for elevated levels of prosperity and physical wellbeing in the first two centuries of the Roman imperial monarchy. The relevance of various putative indicators is critiqued. Demographic data as well as anthropometric evidence consistently point to high levels of morbidity and mortality and substantial developmental stress. This evidence is incompatible with an optimistic interpretation of living conditions in that period. The second part of the paper revisits previous arguments concerning the impact of the so-called ‘Antonine Plague’ of the late second century CE. Papyrological data from Roman Egypt indicate a shift in the ratio of land to labor that is logically consistent with a significant demographic contraction. At the same time, comparative evidence from other periods suggests that the scale of this contraction must not be overrated.
... 31 Referencias actuales del tamaño de los cuerpos según edad y sexo y de las curvas estandarizadas de crecimiento pueden verse en Frisancho (2008). 32 Steckel (2004Steckel ( , 2005 Komlos (1989Komlos ( , 1998Komlos ( , 2003, Koepke y Baten (2005). Sandberg y Steckel (1989). ...
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In the last decades, economic historians explore human heights to analyze secular changes produced in the biological well-being of populations and the relationship between economic growth and human development. Anthropometric data are used to complement the knowledge we have about living standards from the Industrial Revolution, such as real wages, mortality, consumption, among other indicators. With male height data of military recruitment from the early eighteenth century and several national surveys on health and height-by-age data from the European Community Panel, biological welfare trends of Europeans in the last three centuries is reconstructed in the article. The results show, on the one hand, the strong growth of European population stature from the 1850s onwards, after a period of height deterioration with unequal intensity in the majority of countries between 1750 and 1850. On the other, it emphasizes the persistence of disparities in the national averages during the late twentieth century and the strong space and territorial inequality mainly associated to environmental factors in the long term. The height increase is that some countries experienced a revolution of human growth, linked to processes of economic growth, industrialization and urbanization, and mainly to improvements in nutrition, income, education and public health.
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For bioarchaeological studies, a common approach to estimating stature is via regression formulae that are based on the scaling of skeletal elements relative to overall height. Both stature and the proportions of contributing elements may be affected by biocultural and ecological factors, and thus it is generally preferable to apply population‐specific formulae when possible. Within bioarchaeology, the establishment of population‐specific regression formulae is complicated by the need to base formulae on a sufficiently large number of individuals for which all skeletal elements contributing to stature can be measured. Yet disciplinary conventions within bioarchaeology suggest the need for sample sizes that are larger than typical within related fields, and it is thus possible that disciplinary status‐quo has led to a systematic bias in the literature towards larger sites, regions with relatively good preservation, and populations associated with these aspects. To investigate the efficacy of combined‐sex stature regression formulae based on relatively small samples, this study calculated population‐specific formulae based on long bone length for 22 individuals from a late medieval Old Prussian cemetery at Bezławki, Poland. The relationship between stature and each of the predictor elements/measurements considered was strong, particularly for maximum femoral length (r = 0.976). For the latter measurement, a sample size as small as 18 produced accurate and precise stature estimates. Further, the Bezławki‐specific formula based on maximum femoral length provided estimates of stature that performed better than or similarly to formulae based on larger populations, supporting that population‐specific formulae may be warranted, even when based on small samples.
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In this paper, we explore why there are no examples of societies with low state capacity and high economic development. We argue that such an outcome is unlikely because of the nature of investments in state capacity. Societies that become rich in the absence of a strong state invite predation by societies that develop such states. Thus societies invest in state capacity, in part, to plunder other societies’ wealth. Those investments are a form of rent-seeking. Potentially preyed-upon societies are forced to invest in state capacity in turn so as to deter potential attackers. This entails that as soon as a rent seeker enters the game, the likelihood of a low-capacity, high-development society surviving falls. This explains the historical lack of such societies. We thus interpret state capacity not as a causal condition for widespread economic prosperity, but a survivability condition for enjoying this prosperity.
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Objective: To test the hypothesis that the "Little Ice Age" (LIA) (in Japan, ˜1440 - 1730 CE) co-occurred with unique age-at-death patterns. Materials: 810 adult human skeletons from the early Medieval Period (EMP) of Japan, which are contemporaneous with the Medieval Warm Period (10th - mid 13th century AD), and the late Medieval Period (LMP) and Edo Period, which are contemporary with the LIA. Methods: Age at death and sex was determined for each skeleton and demographic profiles of the Yayoi Period (5th century BC - 3rd century AD), EMP, LMP, and Edo site samples were compared. Paleopathological data from previously published reports were evaluated. Results: The EMP had the highest mortality among young adults. Longevity increased in the samples (LMP and Edo) contemporaneous with the LIA. Conclusions: EMP early age-at-death was the result of poor community health, violent death, and frequent large-scale natural catastrophes. The LMP and Edo Period samples have an older age-at-death pattern and higher frequency of stress markers, argued to be a consequence of a colder climate. Significance: This study is the first to synthesize paleodemographic and paleopathological data on a large scale to assess the possible effects of the Little Ice Age in Japan. Limitations: Varying skeletal preservation and focus on adult skeletons reduces the ability to evaluate health throughout the life span. Suggestions for further research: Analysis of nonadult remains and multiple health indicators will likely shed more light on the effects of the Little Ice Age in Japan.
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Jak mierzyć standard życia dziś i w przeszłości? Dla współczesnej odmiany sekty czcicieli złotego cielca odpowiedź jest oczywista – Produkt Krajowy Brutto podzielony przez liczbę mieszkańców. Ostatnimi czasy nawet wśród ekonomistów wiara w cudowną moc owego wskaźnika uległa zachwianiu. Stale podejmowane są próby uzupełnienia go innymi miarami, takimi jak indeksy płac realnych, czy współczynnik nierównomierności w podziale dochodu społecznego. Coraz częściej też sięga się po miary oddające biologiczny aspekt ludzkiej egzystencji – przeciętną długość życia ludzkiego, zachorowalność, wysokość i masę ciała. Wysokość ludzkiego ciała i odniesiona do niego masa na ziemiach polskich w ostatnim tysiącleciu stanowią główny przedmiot opowieści. Ponieważ obie te cechy są ekosensytywne, przeto przez ich pryzmat można patrzeć na odwieczne zmagania człowieka z otaczającym go środowiskiem, początkowo wrogim, lecz w miarę upływu czasu i rozwoju cywilizacji, coraz bardziej przez człowieka ujarzmionym. 15 cm różnicy przeciętnej wysokości ciała jest miarą owego, wcale nie linearnego, postępu.
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The cavalry horse, tactics and training in Western Europe – the Euro-pean provinces of the Roman Empire of the West and the Frankish Empire – du-ring the Early Middle Ages (c. 500-1000) are still subject to many myths in both popular media and academic literature. Source material is admittedly thin, yet it is specific enough to allow us to correct many of these misconceptions and outright errors. The article initially summarises the current state of knowledge on the war horse of the period, by reference to the archaeological record. It then reviews the cavalry’s battlefield tactics, derives the skill level required to execute the manoeuvres described in the sources, and analyses where and how this training could have been provided. The information gleaned provides an insight into the skills and expertise neces-sary to achieve the requisite sophisticated level of horsemanship. We shall argue that these imply a considerable investment in organisational infrastructure, per-sonnel and institutional memory, which has so far not received much academic attention, and has wider implications for our view of the era.
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Diet and consumption patterns are closely associated with social constructions, and can be used to express identity. In medieval Northern Europe, the consumption of meat seems to have been linked to strength and virility, which are important to the creation of elite lay masculinity. At the same time, religious masculinity required fasting due to the Christian Church’s prescribed abstinence from the meat of four-footed animals during fasting periods. Medieval masculinities expressed by diet will be discussed here in the light of the results of an analysis of stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in samples gathered from 16 males and six females buried by the Dominican priory in Västerås, Sweden. The results indicate that a diet rich in freshwater fish was generally followed, with no significant differences depending on age, gender, socioeconomic or religious status.
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As an historical object, the Oxford manuscript Canonici Misc. 213 [Ox213]provides musicologists with rare evidence. Codicological study has shown that Ox213 was copied by a single scribe over a long period of time. Because we can know the actions that resulted in this manuscript were the work of a single mind, we are justified in interpreting that scribe’s choices as meaningful acts.1 What we see on the page is the evidence of what one late medieval man thought important enough to record about the music of his own time.
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In the Iranian Empire (226–636 CE), jurists drawn from the ranks of the Zoroastrian priestly elite developed a complex of institutions designed to guarantee the reproduction of aristocratic males as long as the empire endured. To overcome the high rate of mortality characteristic of preindustrial demographic regimes, they aimed to maximize the fertility rate without compromising their endogamous ideals through the institutions of reproductive coercion, temporary marriage, and “substitute-successorship.” Occupying a position between the varieties of monogamy and polygyny hitherto practiced in the Ancient Near East, the Iranian organization of sex enabled elites not only to reproduce their patrilineages reliably across multiple generations, but also to achieve an appropriate ratio of resources to number of offspring. As the backbone of this juridical architecture, the imperial court became the anchor of aristocratic power, and ruling and aristocratic dynasties became increasingly intertwined and interdependent, forming the patrilineal networks of the “Iranians”—the agents and beneficiaries of Iranian imperialism. The empire's aristocratic structure took shape through a sexual economy: the court created and circulated sexual and reproductive incentives that incorporated elite males into its network that was, thanks to its politically enhanced inclusive fitness, reliable and reproducible. In demonstrating the centrality of Zoroastrian cosmology to the construction and operation of the relevant juridical institutions, I seek to join the approaches of evolutionary biology and cultural anthropology to reproduction that have been pursued in opposition, to account for the historical role of sex in the consolidation of the Iranian Empire.
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This article considers the relationship among race, stature, and proximity to Pennsylvania's nineteenth-century dairy-producing regions. Previous studies demonstrate a positive relationship between stature and access to dairy products. However, Pennsylvania's dairy-producing region was also close to urbanized Philadelphia. Here a new dataset is used from the Pennsylvania state prison system to track the heights of black and white males incarcerated from 1829 to 1909. It is documented that both blacks and whites living in southeastern Pennsylvania near both dairy-producing counties and urbanized Philadelphia were consistently shorter than individuals born and incarcerated elsewhere, indicating that the effects of urbanization dominated proximity to dairy production. Black inmates were consistently shorter than their white counterparts. The well-known midcentury height decline is confirmed among white men and is extended to blacks as well.
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Economic historians have long been familiar with the challenges posed by meager economic data. The constraint is acute for many developed countries in the early and middle phases of industrialization, when information on real Gross National Product per capita is unavailable or at best crudely estimated. Although useful income statistics are available for many countries for much of the nineteenth century, as a whole these series lack both annual and regional detail that is important for appraising the causes and consequences of long-run economic growth (Maddison 1995). Over the past quarter century scholars have used anthropometric measures such as average stature in part to address this problem. Constructed from individual level data from military records and other sources for birth cohorts beginning in the eighteenth century, various height series have added important new information on the welfare aspects of industrialization. Sometimes oversold as “the” biological standard of living, heights are a measure of net nutrition during the growing years, and capture an important aspect of the quality of life that has entered debates between optimists and pessimists. Height series for several countries show that both groups can claim at least partial victory (Steckel and Floud 1997). This paper vastly extends the chronological reach of anthropometric history by illustrating how skeletal remains can be used to depict important aspects of wellbeing over the millennia. The approach, then, embraces human activities from the era of hunter-gatherers onward to settled agriculture, the rise of cities, global exploration and colonization, and eventual industrialization. © Cambridge University Press 2009 and Cambridge University Press, 2010.
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Using a comparative and broad perspective, Religion, Politics and Society in Britain 800-1066 draws on archaeology, art history, material culture, texts from charms to chronicles, from royal law-codes to sermons to poems, and other evidence to demonstrate the centrality of Christianity and the Church in Britain 800–1066. It delineates their contributions to the changes in politics, economy, society and culture that occurred between 800 and 1066, from nation-building to practicalities of government to landscape.
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This study uses German experiences before and during the First World War to work out phenomena which are typical to war zones. With regard to its unexpected intensity and duration, the German experiences during the First World War constitute a unique natural experiment. Famines and excess mortality are typically problems of developing countries, but Germany's economy was very developed and the living standards were already fairly high prior to the conflict. This unique scenario allows us to rule out factors related to underdevelopment as being responsible for the devastating nutritional conditions that ensued. Various macro- and microeconomic challenges are studied, such as labor shortages and mobilization, economic isolation and economic warfare, effectiveness of domestic agricultural production, rationing system and black markets, living standards and well-being (heights, nutrition), and, finally, political, social, and economic consequences of war.
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This chapter focuses on the potential causes and consequences of the second epidemiologic transition. It presents evidence on the standard of living across Europe for the centuries preceding the second transition and tests whether conditions were indeed stagnant. The chapter assesses whether regional differences in the standard of living existed, which in turn might be responsible for regional and national-level differences in the trajectory of the transition throughout the continent. The data on stature used here comes from archaeologically derived skeletons recovered from cemeteries throughout Europe. The findings suggest that well-being, represented by net nutrition and therefore mean stature, did not stagnate prior to the second transition, but instead experienced substantial variation by region and over the centuries. The results also suggest that increased rates of urbanization throughout time and the declines in environmental quality that they represent have presented a major impediment to improvements in health over time.
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Econometrical efforts to predict employees' wages earned on the labor market are normally based on a Mincer wage function. Consequently, human capital, such as education and job experience, are assumed to positively influence productivity and thus an employee's wage. Apparently, labor markets do not only pay its employees according to their human capital but seem to additionally pay a wage premium for a non-productivity effective characteristic, namely a person's body height. Analyses using the Swiss Health Survey 2002 (Swiss Federal Statistics Office) show that the »return to body height« for male Swiss employees is about 6‰ and approximately 5‰ for female Swiss employees. Similar results on the influence of body height on income have been demonstrated for the United States of America, and with certain reservation, for Germany. Attempts to explain this - at least from the point of view of human capital theory - irrationality of the labor market emphasize that body height is a signal of power, respect, and perseverance and is therefore paid accordingly. Even though there is lack of empirical evidence for a causal relation between body height and power (i.e., perseverance and respect) beyond the animal kingdom, the Swiss labor market nevertheless seems to believe in such a correlation.
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Food shortages and hunger had been a great threat to the standard of living in urban communities in the Middle Ages and in early modern times. In order to cope with this sort of critical events, local governments and municipal councils commonly tried to control market dynamics, but it is not clear, whether in cases like this the typical market reaction of rising prices of foodstuffs and wages could really be moderated in the long-run through an intervention in markets. In the present article, a simplified multi-agent-based model of the pre-modern urban economy is used which allows a simulation of effects that different strategies of crisis management had on the medium-term and long-range economic and demographic developments in an urban community experiencing a food shortage. Intervention in markets turns out to be a strategic choice of local authorities by which very likely wealth-destroying consequences of food shortages or even famines could be reduced to some extent. A successful intervention preventing a temporary food shortage turning into a substantial nutritional crisis nonetheless had to be goal-directed and of complex design, and showed its full wealth-keeping effects only after a considerably long period of time.
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Visual analysis of human anatomical and segmental variation are valuable tools for analysing and modifying exercise positions for movement efficiency, health, and safety. The most widely known visual technique for determining whether a body segment is long, short, or normal is based on da Vinci's 1487 Vitruvian Man. In the more than five centuries since, human height has changed. This pilot study explores whether the change in stature affects the validity of da Vinci's original estimations of anthropometry relative to modern populations. The present day data deviated across all Vitruvian segments. Of the nine male and six female subjects, none matched the model, thus indicating the need for further investigation on a larger scale. Male segmental lengths were more different from the Vitruvian standard (p=0.0002) than female segmental lengths (p=0.2457). However, it was noted that da Vinci's estimations were within one SD of the present means; thus, the model may still be cautiously applied as a guide for health professionals.
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This article examines the modernization of northern Finnish food culture, especially in 17th- and 18th-century urban Oulu, by applying the methods of archaeology and history research. During the 17th century, the food culture was still quite conservative. Coffee, sugar, wheat flour, and fruit began entering the diet of affluent northern Finnish people from the 18th century onwards. The food culture of Oulu inhabitants is studied by comparing dental material retrieved from Oulu Cathedral graveyard to data obtained from historical document sources. A comparison point to the early modern bone material of Oulu is provided by late Middle Ages material from Ii, which lies north of Oulu on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. Carbohydrate consumption is related to many dental conditions, such as caries and calculus, which can be traced in archaeological human skeletal remains. The diets of males and females, as well as the diets of adults and children, are compared, in order to retrieve information on the emerging consumption of sugar in different groups, such as gender and age groups. The relationship between carbohydrate consumption and class identity in northern Finland is discussed. © 2015 the Historical Associations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden
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Inleiding Menselijke bot-en tandresten kunnen ons heel veel informatie bieden over de bevolking in het verleden. Zo kunnen ze allerlei sporen bevatten van verschillende vormen van stress waarmee iemand ooit gedurende zijn leven te maken had. Het onderzoek hiervan kan inzicht bieden in bepaalde gezondheidsaspecten van de bevolking in het verleden. 2 De gezondheidstoestand is een complex gegeven waarin genetische, biologische, mentale, sociale, culturele en omgevingsfactoren een grote rol spelen. Het is een essentiële parameter die de levensverwachting, het voortplantingsvermogen en het vermogen om te werken beïnvloedt. 3 Studie ervan kan daarenboven meer duidelijkheid scheppen over de sociale structuren binnen een groep. Sociale ongelijkheid bij de toegankelijkheid van bepaald voedsel of bepaalde goederen alsook bij het dagelijks werk bepalen mee hoe vatbaar iemand is voor voedingstekorten en infecties. 4 Middeleeuwse gemeenschappen, en a fortiori kloostergemeenschappen, vormen uitstekend studiemateriaal omdat ze een sterke sociale structurering kenden. 5 Deze gemeenschappen moesten bovendien heel strenge leefregels volgen 6 , en zo beschikken we over heel wat schriftelijke bronnen die hun levensstijl en voeding beschrijven. Dit artikel heeft twee grote doelstellingen: • de algemene gezondheidstoestand van de middeleeuwse kloostergemeen-schap van Ten Duinen beter in beeld brengen; • eventuele verbanden blootleggen tussen de gezondheidstoestand van indivi-duele personen en hun sociale positie in de abdij.
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This article deals with methodological issues connected with least-cost path (LCP) calculations in archaeology. The number of LCP studies in archaeology has increased rapidly during the last couple of years, but not all of the approaches applied are based on an appropriate model and implementation. Many archaeologists rely on standard GIS software with default settings for calculating LCPs and are not aware of possible alternatives and the pitfalls that are described in this article. After briefly introducing the aims and applications of LCP methods in archaeology, LCP algorithms are discussed. The outcome of the LCP calculations depends not only on the algorithm but also on the cost model, which often includes several cost components. The discussion of the cost components has a focus on slope, because nearly all archaeological LCP studies take this cost component into account and because several methodological issues are connected with slope-based cost models. Other possible cost components are: the load of the walker, vegetation cover, wetlands or other soil properties, travelling and transport on water, water as barrier and as attractor, aspect, altitude, and social or cultural cost components. Eventually, advantages and disadvantages of different ways of combining cost components are presented. Based on the methodological issues I conclude that both validation checks and variations of the model are necessary to analyse the reliability of archaeological LCP results.
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Human height is a quantitative trait influenced by genetics and environmental conditions. Historical records from several European nations show a rapid increase in average population heights during the 19th century. Improvements in nutrition and public health are known contributors to this increase, but, theoretically, evolutionary selection may have also played a role. Women prefer taller mates, and sexual selection for height has likely contributed to evolutionary changes in human height. However, cultural restrictions on mate selection freedom prior to the 19th century may have blunted the effects of this mate preference. We hypothesized that a shift toward gender equality in 19th century Sweden increased mate selection freedom for women and amplified sexual selection for height. A mathematical model supported environmental factors as the main force driving population height change, and suggested a limited role for sexual selection. More generally, the model provides a framework for studying interactions between cultural change and evolutionary selection mechanisms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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A hard, constant and pragmatic work was developed by the early settlers of the New World in order to obtain all available information on that ecosystem. The identification of species of animals that could be hunted and fished was probably one of the first concerns of these mens. In this process of recognition of the New World’s fauna, were of central importance the treaties, compilations and letters that could be useful to the comprehension of the challenges and obstacles encountered by Portuguese settlers disembarked in the Tropics. From the approach of the History of Science, we intend to list and analyze the processes of classification developed by the first European inhabitants of the colony during the sixteenth century. Um trabalho árduo, constante e pragmático foi desenvolvido pelos primeiros colonizadores do Novo Mundo no sentido de obter toda a informação disponível acerca daquele ecossistema. A identificação de espécies de animais que pudessem ser caçados e pescados foi, provavelmente, uma das primeiras preocupações dos colonizadores. Neste processo de reconhecimento da fauna, destacamos os tratados, compilações e cartas que possam ser úteis para compreendermos os desafios e obstáculos encontrados pelos colonizadores portugueses ao desembarcarem nos Trópicos. A partir dos conceitos da História das Ciências, pretendemos elencar e analisar os processos classificatórios desenvolvidos pelos primeiros moradores da colônia ao longo do século XVI.
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In recent years the nutritional adequacy of the slave diet has received increasing attention from historians. Scholars have analyzed a wide array of sources such as the manuscript censuses of agriculture and population, the ex-slave narratives, diaries, plantation account books, and agricultural and medical journals to shed new light on the quantities, varieties, and nutritional content of foods consumed by slaves (Fogel and Engerman, 1974; Owens, 1976; Sutch, 1975; Kiple and Kiple, 1977; Savitt, 1978; Crawford, 1980; Kahn, 1983). While these studies have yielded considerable information on the average quality of the slave diet in the American South or for slaves in particular localities, relatively little systematic evidence has been available to date on how the level of nutrition varied among different groups in the slave population, and over time.
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Puts forward schema to establish the larger context with which studies of the relationship beteen nutrition and disease can be made, and between these conditions and social change. -after Authors
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As an aid to interpreting the results of height-by-age studies this paper investigates the relationship between average height and per capita income. The relationships among income, nutrition, medical care, and height at the individual level suggest that average height is nonlinearly related to per capita income and that the distribution of income is an important determinant of average height. Empirical analysis rests on 56 height studies and per capita income estimates for 20 developed or developing countries.
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Brian Fagan examines the dominant climate event of the last millennium-the 500-year Little Ice Age-and shows how it affected major episodes of European history. Only in the last decade have climatologists developed an accurate picture of yearly climate conditions in historical times. This development confirmed a long-standing suspicion: that the world endured a 500-year cold snap-The Little Ice Age-that lasted roughly from A. D. 1300 until 1850. The Little Ice Age tells the story of the turbulent, unpredictable and often very cold years of modern European history, how climate altered historical events, and what they mean in the context of today's global warming. With its basis in cutting-edge science, The Little Ice Age offers a new perspective on familiar events. Renowned archaeologist Brian Fagan shows how the increasing cold affected Norse exploration; how changing sea temperatures ca used English and Basque fishermen to follow vast shoals of cod all the way to the New World; how a generations-long subsistence crisis in France contributed to social disintegration and ultimately revolution; and how English efforts to improve farm productivity in the face of a deteriorating climate helped pave the way for the Industrial Revolution and hence for global warming. This is a fascinating, original book for anyone interested in history, climate, or the new subject of how they interact.
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By Clark Spencer Larsen. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1997. 461 pp. ISBN 0-521-49641-1. $85.00 (cloth).
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Temporal changes in average stature are often used as a measure of a past population's adaptation, or lack of it. Traditionally, stature estimates have been calculated using formulae derived from limb proportions of cadavers. However, many authors have noted the problem of regional or population variation in body proportions of such reconstructed ratios. Before differences in stature can be attributed to environmental adaptation, ‘ethnic’ or population differences in limb ratios must be taken into account. The present paper calculates the stature of a medieval Norwegian skeletal sample using archaeological plan femur length and dry bone femur length. The author presents a variety of formulae and compares the stature derived from these calculations to the stature derived from archaeological plans. The Trondheim statures are then compared to stature reconstructions of other contemporary populations.
Article
The differences between the variance structures of the bivariate pairs (height, length of the femur) and (height, length of the tibia) are insignificant when estimated from male and female samples of European derived populations, thus the regression lines for the predictions of height are parallel. The variance of height in samples of predicted heights is discussed and the consequences for the statistical analysis of average heights are indicated.
Article
Population growth in eighteenth-century England was due mainly to a fall in mortality, which was particularly marked during the first half of the century. The fall affected all socioeconomic groups and does not appear to have occurred for primarily economic reasons. In addition to an explanation involving the introduction of smallpox inoculation, the major hypothesis considered in this article is that the significant improvement in domestic hygiene associated with the rebuilding of housing in brick and tile brought about a major reduction in mortality.
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Europe became a land of cities during the last millennium. The story told in this book begins with North Sea and Mediterranean traders sailing away from Dorestad and Amalfi, and with warrior kings building castles to fortify their conquests. It tells of the dynamism of textile towns in Flanders and Ireland. While London and Hamburg flourished by reaching out to the world and once vibrant Spanish cities slid into somnlence, a Russian urban network slowly grew to rival that of the West. Later as the tide of industrialization swept over Europe, the most intense urban striving and then settled back into the merchant cities and baroque capitals of an earlier era. By tracing the large-scale precesses of social, economic, and political change within cities, as well as the evolving relationships between town and country and between city and city, the authors present an original synthsis of European urbanization within a global context. They divide their study into three time periods, making the early modern era much more than a mere transition from preindustrial to industrial economies. Through both general analyzes and incisive case studies, Hohenberg and Lees show how cities originated and what conditioned their early development and later growth. How did urban activity respond to demographic and techological changes? Did the social consequences of urban life begin degradation or inspire integration and cultural renewal? New analytical tools suggested by a systems view of urban relations yield a vivid dual picture of cities both as elements in a regional and national heirarchy of central places and also as junctions in a transnational network for the exchange of goods, information, and influence. A lucid text is supplemented by numerous maps, illustrations, figures, and tables, and by substantial bibliography. Both a general and a scholarly audience will find this book engrossing reading. Table of Contents: Introduction: Urdanization in Perspective PART I: The Preindustrial Age: eleventh to Fourteenth Centuries 1. Structure and Functions of Medieval Towns 2. Systems of Early Cities 3. The Demography of Preindustrial Cities PART II: The Industrial Age: Fourteenth to Eighteenth Centuries 4. Cities in the Early Modern European Economy 5. Beyond Baroque Urbanism PART III: The Industrial Age: Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries 6. Industrial and the Cities 7. Urban Growth and Urban Systems 8. The Human Consequences of Industrial Urbanization 9. The Evolution and Control of Urban Space 10. Europe's Cities in the Twentieth Century Appendix A: A Cyclical Model of an Economy Appendix B: Size Distributions and the Ranks-Size Rule Notes Bibliography Index Reviews of this book: A readable and ambitious introduction to the long history of European urbanization. --Economic History Review Reviews of this book: A trailblazing history of the transformation of Europe. --John Barkham Reviews Reviews of this book: A marvelously compendious account of a millennium of urban development, which accomplishes that most difficult of assignments, to design a work that will safely introduce the newcomer to the subject and at the same time stimulate professional colleagues to review positions. --Urban Studies
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In this unique anthology, Steckel and Floud coordinate ten essays that bring a new perspective to inquiry about standard of living in modern times. These papers are arranged for international comparison, and they individually examine evidence of health and welfare during and after industrialization in eight countries: the United States, Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia. The essays incorporate several indicators of quality of life, especially real per capita income and health, but also real wages, education, and inequality. And while the authors use traditional measures of health such as life expectancy and mortality rates, this volume stands alone in its extensive use of new "anthropometric" data—information about height, weight and body mass index that indicates changes in nations' well-being. Consequently, Health and Welfare during Industrialization signals a new direction in economic history, a broader and more thorough understanding of what constitutes standard of living.
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Cholera was the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century, as the plague had been for the fourteenth. Its defeat was a reflection not only of progress in medical knowledge but of enduring changes in American social thought. Rosenberg has focused his study on New York City, the most highly developed center of this new society. Carefully documented, full of descriptive detail, yet written with an urgent sense of the drama of the epidemic years, this narrative is as absorbing for general audiences as it is for the medical historian. In a new Afterword, Rosenberg discusses changes in historical method and concerns since the original publication of The Cholera Years. "A major work of interpretation of medical and social thought . . . this volume is also to be commended for its skillful, absorbing presentation of the background and the effects of this dread disease."—I.B. Cohen, New York Times "The Cholera Years is a masterful analysis of the moral and social interest attached to epidemic disease, providing generally applicable insights into how the connections between social change, changes in knowledge and changes in technical practice may be conceived."—Steven Shapin, Times Literary Supplement "In a way that is all too rarely done, Rosenberg has skillfully interwoven medical, social, and intellectual history to show how medicine and society interacted and changed during the 19th century. The history of medicine here takes its rightful place in the tapestry of human history."—John B. Blake, Science
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Measurements of Swedish soldiers were recorded in muster rolls as early as the 1760s. Results of a sample of these measurements over the period up to 1880 are used as an index of living standards in comparison with perceptions formed from other sources. The most striking contrast concerns the period of the mid-nineteenth century. Among economic historians, those who hold the optimistic view that living standards continuously improved during the mid-1800s predominated, but our results combined with other evidence point, on the contrary, to a mild subsistence crisis in western Sweden at that period.
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In human ecosystems, the impact of the environment is felt most forcibly on the growing child, particularly in the early years of life. Exposure to a hostile world after leaving the protection of the maternal uterus is followed in all societies by a death rate which is reached again only in old age. However, the range of environmental hazards to which the growing and surviving child is exposed varies widely in different societies. Of all the indices available to measure the impact of these hazards, few are as informative or as sensitive as the variation displayed in the physical growth of children.1
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The height of conscripts has increased steadily during recent decades in Europe. We have collected data on conscript height from 11 European countries to examine if this trend is continuing. In the Scandinavian countries and The Netherlands the increase in height reached a plateau during the 1980s, while the trend towards increasing adult height continued in the middle and southern European countries. There are still large differences between the countries (1990: The Netherlands 181.2 cm and Portugal 170.3 cm), with a marked trend for the tallest conscripts to be in the north and the shortest in the shortest in the south. It has been suggested that the secular increase in adult height is mainly determined by an increase in growth during the first years of life. We examined postneonatal mortality (PNM) as a proxy for adverse environmental factors, mainly poor nutrition and infections, affecting growth during infancy, and related it to conscript height in the European countries. The general pattern was a rapid decrease in PNM until a low level was reached, after which it remained low, or decreased only very slowly. In countries where the increase in conscript height has levelled off, PNM reached a low and stable level (about 3-5 per thousand) approximately two decades before this stagnation. We speculate that the increase in height will continue in the rest of the European countries until approximately two decades after PNM has reached the same low level.
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Publication of this paper has been aided by editorial funds generously supplied by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.