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Title: A bioarchaeological and historical analysis of scurvy in eighteenth and nineteenth century England
Author: Sinnott, Catherine Agnes
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 2953
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2015
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The identification of metabolic diseases is a crucial aspect of osteoarchaeological analysis and of paleopathological studies. This study is specifically concerned with the study of scurvy and its bony manifestation. This investigation considers the recognition of the bony lesions of scurvy in adult skeletons that originate from English archaeological contexts dating to the Post Medieval period. In order to identify scorbutic bony lesions, assemblages were analysed that derived from the Georgian period Navy that were known to suffer from endemic scurvy, namely Haslar hospital near Portsmouth and Stonehouse hospital in Plymouth. These assemblages were complemented by two Non-Naval skeletal collections of a broadly contemporaneous time period, one of which was a prison assemblage from Oxford Castle in Oxford and the other was from Darwen, Lancashire and consisted of a Primitive Methodist cemetery. For the purpose of this study, an extensive literature review was carried out and a specially modified scurvy recording form was created. In total three hundred and fifty-eight skeletons were analysed using the scurvy recording form on which a total of twenty-one potential scorbutic indicators were scored. The data was then subject to statistical analysis and a set of primary and secondary scorbutic indicators was established. The primary scorbutic lesions were femur, sphenoid, posterior maxilla, scapula, endocranial and mandible. Nine secondary lesions were also established and these were lesions of the foot, humerus, ulna, radius, hand, clavicle, innominate, fibula and the ectocranial surface of the skull. In total, 66.7% of the Haslar assemblage was found to have suffered from scurvy, followed by Plymouth with 20.6%, Darwen with 16.4% and Oxford Castle with 7.9%. It was found that scurvy could be identified in adult skeletal material through the recognition of a number of lesions that could not be attributed to any other disease process. The results indicated that scurvy was present in all of the skeletal collections studied but was more common in the Naval assemblages. This is an important development in the detection of scurvy in the archaeological record and is crucial in the reconstruction of past diets and metabolic disease patterns.
Supervisor: Shortland, A.; Mays, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Royal Navy ; Forensic anthropology ; Human remains ; Paleopathology