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Dialogues with the dead : an osteological analysis of the palaeodemography and life history of the 18th and 19th century northern frontier in South Africa

By Tanya Rochelle Peckmann


Bibliography: leaves 170-187.Osteological, dental, and molecular analyses were conducted on remains from seven historical archaeological sites within South Africa. The emphasis was on the collection of lifestyle data for the purpose of adding to the unwritten history of indigenous South African peoples and to give voice to a once forgotten group of peoples. The demographic distribution reveals three different community dynamics: the Griqua sample are a pastoralist group incorporating some agricultural activities, the Colesberg individuals are an indigenous group resembling a migrant workers population living on the margins of society, and the Wolmaransstad demographics are suggestive of a Zabantu labouring community. All individuals are relatively healthy with low rates of dental disease and trauma and share similar growth patterns to living populations. However all of these individuals display high frequencies of porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia, skeletal manifestations of iron deficiency anaemia. Many theories about the occurrence of anaemia are discussed and the hypothesis that, in these individuals, it is related to infection by the smallpox virus is investigated through the analysis of ancient DNA

Topics: Human Biology
Publisher: Department of Human Biology
Year: 2002
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