Tracing Prehistoric Activities : Life ways, habitual behaviour and health of hunter-gatherers on Gotland
Sammanfattning: In the present thesis, skeletal and dental evidence of physical strain and habitual behaviour has been investigated through musculoskeletal stress markers (MSM) and extramasticatory dental wear. The skeletal and dental traits have been examined in relation to health patterns and material culture in order to gain better knowledge of life ways of hunter-gatherers on Gotland with special focus on Pitted Ware culture sites and the Ajvide site in particular. Skeletal assemblages included in the study derive from five Middle Neolithic sites on Gotland (n= 213): Ajvide, Västerbjers, Visby, Ire and Fridtorp; as well as a medieval sample from Sigtuna (n= 343).Although inferring specific activities from particular skeletal traits is difficult, results imply that archery was performed at Ajvide, and particularly noticeable in males. Further sex and age related differences in MSM and dental wear were observed within as well as between sites, showing that there was a gendered division of labour within the Pitted Ware culture on Gotland. A correlation was furthermore observed between extramasticatory wear and periapi-cal lesions, indicating that habitual behaviour also posed a potential health hazard.The general health of the hunter-gatherers on Gotland was poorer compared to Medieval Sigtuna, although separate health variables exhibit a more complex image of the patterns of health and activity in these populations signifying the two different ways of life. However, no direct link between physical strain and health status was found. Neither was there a clear association between patterns of eburnation lesions and MSM, although results show that factors other than age should be considered for the onset of osteoarthritis.The study has shown both skeletal and dental evidence of physical activity and habitual behaviour in the Pitted Ware culture. It has also shown that activity patterns indeed may have consequences for the general health status of a population.
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