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Title: Evidence of activity : a comparative study of activity induced skeletal stress markers among three medieval Irish populations
Author: O'Reilly, Roisin A. B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 9108
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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The aim of the present study is to identify the presence of multiple skeletal markers of ‘activity’ (MOA), in the upper limbs and vertebrae, which are considered to represent the impact of mechanical stress. For this purpose entheseal changes, osteoarthritis, os acromiale, and Schmorl's nodes were analysed. The main question posed is; are these skeletal conditions useful indicators of activity among different socio-political communities and, if so, what implications might this suggest? Three medieval Irish agricultural populations, which are considered to have practised different subsistence economies were selected for analysis and a total of 553 adult skeletons were examined. The intra-population analysis revealed no indications of asymmetry in any of the populations, suggesting that agricultural populations used both their arms relatively equally in order to perform activities which required symmetrical strength. The analysis of sex demonstrated statistically significant MOA among males in all three populations, whereas females demonstrated no significant differences in the prevalence of these conditions. The age groups analysis revealed higher prevalence rates among middle adults in comparison to young adults in all three populations. On the assumption that the aforementioned skeletal conditions resulted from a mechanical aetiology, the results would therefore demonstrate that all three populations participated in strenuous activities which were detrimental to their health. The sexual dimorphic trends suggests that males performed the most strenuous tasks associated with agriculture whereas women participated in lighter agricultural tasks along with domestic activities. Such activities likely commenced during adolescence and continued into adulthood, causing the absolute frequencies of these conditions to increase over time. The inter-population analysis revealed significant formation of entheseal changes in Cabinteely and Schmorl's nodes in Ballyhanna possibly suggesting different agricultural activities, associated with cultural and regional practices. However, such observations may have a hormonal or genetic predisposition and thus the findings are not definitive.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available