Temporal Trends in Demographic Profiles and Stress Levels in Medieval (6th–13th)

Temporal Trends in Demographic Profiles and Stress Levels in Medieval (6th–13th Century) Population Samples from Continental Croatia

By Mario Šlaus, Dana Kollmann, Shannon A. Novak and Mario Novak

Croatian Medical Journal, Vol.45:3 (2002)

Aim: To analyze and compare the demographic profiles and disease frequencies of early (6th-9th century) and late (10th-13th century) medieval skeletal series from continental Croatia.

Methods: Age and sex distributions in three early (n=277) and six late (n=175) medieval skeletal series were compared. All skeletons were analyzed for the presence of dental enamel hypoplasia, periostitis, trauma, and presence of Schmorl’s depressions in vertebral bodies.

Results: Data collected from the skeletal series suggested significantly higher stress in the late medieval period. This stress may have affected mortality, as evidenced by significantly higher subadult mortality and shorter adult average life span. Men in the late medieval series, in particular, seem to have been under greater stress. They exhibited significantly higher mortality in the 21-25 years age category, and significantly higher frequencies of periosteal lesions, cranial and postcranial trauma, and Schmorl’s depressions.

Conclusion: The frequencies of all skeletal indicators of stress increased significantly during the late medieval period. This was accompanied by a significant increase in subadult mortality and shortening of the average life span of adult men and women.

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