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Title: Enriching the Neolithic : the forgotten people of the Barrows
Author: Cuthbert, G. S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 8144
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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This detailed study involved the osteological examination of over 36000 human bone specimens (the majority of which were highly fragmented) representing a minimum of 305 individuals from 42 Neolithic sites, and is the most up-to-date synthesis on the health, lives and demography of the people from southern Britain. The aim of the project was to analyse the collections excavated in antiquity which had never been examined by an osteologist, or to re-examine those that have not benefitted from modern techniques, with the intention of collecting demographic data, recording palaeopathology, stature and any dietary deficiencies that affect the skeleton. The importance of re-analysing previously examined collections was particularly illustrated by the extensive assemblage from Hazleton North long barrow, which comprised over 21500 fragmented and whole bones. This site had evidence of multiple funerary behaviour in the form of inhumation, cremation, and excarnation, a practice that was previously unrecognised at the site. Important discoveries were made in the field of palaeopathology - 67% (4/6) of those affected by Vitamin C deficiency in this study were excavated from the site, together with one case each of suspected poliomyelitis, DISH, septic arthritis, and high prevalence rates of dental and joint diseases. The re-examination of extant Neolithic collections also revealed new evidence of infectious disease, in the form of six cases of otitis media and one of meningitis; metastatic cancer in a child; metabolic disorders, including scurvy and rickets; various congenital disorders including muscular torticollis; and 12 likely cases of trauma caused by inter-personal violence; together with a comprehensive evaluation of non-specific indicators of stress in the population. The project stresses that even very fragmented and disarticulated collections of human bone can reveal a wealth of information about the people who underwent a major shift in subsistence practices, culture and worldview, which can only add value to the archaeological record of such an important time in prehistory.
Supervisor: Mckenzie, C. ; Hurcombe, L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neolithic ; Human Skeletal Remains ; Bioarchaeology