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Title: The palaeopathology of middle ear and mastoid disease : a comparison of methods of investigation and results of the examination of the temporal bones of skeletal material from Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon and late medieval cemetries
Author: Dalby, Gwen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 6909
Awarding Body: The University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 1994
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Otitis media is one of the most common childhood ailments seen in clinical practice today, yet the condition has rarely been identified in the skeletal remains of past populations. Other diseases of the middle ear and mastoid have been sporadically reported in the archaeological literature but no standardised criteria for their diagnosis in temporal bones have been established. A comparative study of different non-destructive methods of examination of human temporal bones was undertaken in order to determine the optimum strategy for future research. The material for the study consisted of 1244 temporal bones representing 688 individuals from seven English cemeteries dated to the Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods. The examination of such a wide range of material facilitated determination of optimum diagnostic criteria while eliminating single site bias. It also allowed a comparison to be made, of the prevalence of ear disease, between populations separated both geographically and chronologically. The inclusion in the study of the human skeletal meterial from a medieval leprosy hospital cemetery at Chichester afforded the opportunity to investigate the possibility that ear disease was more prevalent in those individuals who had suffered from leprosy. A review of the documentary evidence for the treatment of middle ear disease in the past suggests that, prior to the introduction of antibiotic therapy, no truly effective treatment was available and, therefore, palaeopathological evidence is unlikely to have been influenced by therapeutic intervention. In the preparation of skeletal reports the temporal bones should, ideally, be examined using a combination of methods. Two methods are recommended as being the most useful where resources are limited but in the identification of particular pathological conditions other methods proved useful. This research has demonstrated that middle ear disease in ancient populations can, with some certainty, be diagnosed using the proposed criteria, thus removing the barrier to future comparative research in this field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Not available Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available