The Backbone of History: Health and Nutrition in the Western Hemisphere

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 26, 2002 - History - 633 pages
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For the same reasons that explorers of the early twentieth century strove to reach the poles, and their modern counterparts journey to outer space, most people want to visualize the contours of the human experience - the peaks of adaptive success that led to the expansion of civilization, and the troughs in which human presence ebbed. The Backbone of History defines the emerging field of macrobioarchaeology by gathering skeletal evidence on seven basic indicators of health to assess chronic conditions that affected individuals who lived in the Western Hemisphere from 5000 BC to the late nineteenth century. Signs of biological stress in childhood and of degeneration in joints and in teeth increased in the several millennia before the arrival of Columbus as populations moved into less healthy ecological environments. Thus, pre-Colombian Native Americans were among the healthiest and the least healthy groups to live in the Western Hemisphere before the twentieth century.
 

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Contents

Preface
xi
List of Contributors
xv
PART I
1
Introduction
3
METHODOLOGY
9
Reconstructing Health Profiles from Skeletal Remains
11
A Health Index from Skeletal Remains
61
Paleodemography of the Americas From Ancient Times to Colonialism and Beyond
94
Health and Nutrition in PreHispanic Mesoamerica
307
NATIVE AMERICANS AND EUROAMERICANS IN SOUTH AMERICA
339
Introduction
341
Patterns of Health and Nutrition in Prehistoric and Historic Ecuador
343
Economy Nutrition and Disease in Prehistoric Coastal Brazil A Case Study from the State of Santa Catarina
376
NATIVE AMERICANS IN NORTH AMERICA
401
Introduction
403
A Biohistory of Health and Behavior in the Georgia Bight The Agricultural Transition and the Impact of European Contact
406

EUROAMERICANS AND AFRICANAMERICANS IN NORTH AMERICA
125
Introduction
127
The Health of the Middle Class The St Thomas Anglican Church Cemetery Project
130
The Poor in the MidNineteenthCentury Northeastern United States Evidence from the Monroe County Almshouse Rochester New York
162
The Effects of NineteenthCentury Military Service on Health
185
The Health of Slaves and Free Blacks in the East
208
The Quality of AfricanAmerican Life in the Old Southwest near the Turn of the Twentieth Century
226
NATIVE AMERICANS IN CENTRAL AMERICA
279
Introduction
281
Social Disruption and the Maya Civilization of Mesoamerica A Study of Health and Economy of the Last Thousand Years
283
Native Americans in Eastern North America The Southern Great Lakes and Upper Ohio Valley
440
Cultural Longevity and Biological Stress in the American Southwest
481
Health Nutrition and Demographic Change in Native California
506
Welfare History on the Great Plains Mortality and Skeletal Health 1650 to 1900
524
Patterns of Health in the Western Hemisphere
563
Conclusions
583
The Body as Evidence The Body of Evidence
593
Overspecialization and Remedies
603
Index
609
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Richard H. Steckel is Professor of Economics and Anthropology at Ohio State University. His most recent publications include Health and Welfare During Industrialization, which he coedited with Roderick Floud, and A Population History of the United States, which he co-edited with Michael Haines.

Jerome C. Rose is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas. He has conducted bioarcheological excavations in Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, Egypt, and Jordan.

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