By Mark N. Cohen, Gillian M. M. Crane-Kramer
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Extra info for Ancient Health: Skeletal Indicators of Agricultural and Economic Intensification
We now know that maize is of Middle Woodland age, because plant remains from the Holding site in the American Bottom have been directly dated. But carbon isotope studies on human bone show no maize use, perhaps because very low levels of maize consumption mask isotope visibility (Riley et al. 1994; Buikstra et al. 1994). Maize consumption may have been quite restricted or even ceremonial (Fortier and Jackson 2000), and maize may well have been an exotic resource traded from warmer regions, but sourcing studies on maize in this region have not been done.
Osteoarthritis Frequency of degeneration of articular joints (particularly the vertebral joints) in the Georgia uplands is generally greater than in the contemporary Georgia coastal populations (Williamson 2000). These differences, controlling for age, suggest that the upland populations experienced greater mechanical demand 30 C. S. Larsen et al. than coastal populations. Although specific differences in lifestyle are not clear, the data suggest that upland terrain provides the greater mechanical challenge, perhaps related to carrying loads up and down hilly terrain.
Mississippian women exhibit a reduction in strength of the left humerus and forearm, a Maize and Mississippians in the American Midwest 15 result probably linked to mortar-and-pestle technology and to lessened physical requirements in maize processing (Bridges et al. 2000). Heavy labor investments in small-seed cultivation and silviculture activities (Munson 1984) may be reflected in the contrast between Woodland and Mississippian women. The failure to find significant differences between earlier and later Late Woodland components may reflect the patchwork of investment in maize cultivation that we have seen in the carbon isotope results.