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

By: Richard H Steckel(Editor), Jerome C Rose(Editor)

568 pages, 64 b/w illustrations, 18 maps, 140 tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Sep 2002 | #134213 | ISBN: 0521801672
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £92.99 $121/€105 approx

About this book

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.


Part I
1. Introduction

Part II. Methodology
2. Reconstructing health profiles from skeletal remains Alan H. Goodman and Debra L. Martin
3. A health index from skeletal remains Richard H. Steckel, Paul W. Sciulli and Jerome C. Rose
4. Paleodemography of the Americas Robert McCaa

Part III. Euro-Americans and African Americans in North America
5. The health of the middle class: the St. Thomas Anglican church cemetery project Shelly Saunders, Ann Herring, Larry Sawchuck, Gerry Boyce, Rob Hoppa and Susan Klepp
6. The poor in the mid-nineteenth century Northeastern United States Rosanne L. Higgins, Michael R. Haines, Lorena Walsh and Joyce E. Sirianni
7. The effects of nineteenth-century military service on health Paul S. Sledzik and Lars G. Sandberg
8. The health of slaves and free blacks in the East Ted A. Rathbun and Richard H. Steckel
9. The quality of African American life in the Southwest near the turn of the twentieth century James Davidson, Jerome Rose, Myron Gutmann, Michael Haines, Keith Condon and Cindy Condon

Part IV. Native Americans in Central America
10. Social disruption and the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica Rebecca Storey, Lourdes Marquez Morfin and Vernon Smith
11. Health and nutrition in some Prehispanic Mesoamerican populations related with their way of life Lourdes Marquez Morfin, Robert McCaa, Rebecca Storey and Andres Del Angel

Part V. Native Americans and Euro-Americans in South America
12. Patterns of health and nutrition in prehistoric and historic Ecuador Douglas H. Ubelaker and Linda A. Newson
13. Economy, nutrition and disease in Southern, Coastal Brazil Walter Neves and Verônica Wesolowski

Part VI. Native Americans in North America
14. A biohistory of health and behavior in the Georgia Bight Clark Larsen, Alfred Crosby, et al
15. Native Americans of Eastern North America Paul W. Sciulli and James Oberly
16. Cultural longevity in the face of biological stress Ann L. W. Stodder, Debra L. Martin, Alan H. Goodman and Daniel T. Reff
17. Health, nutrition, and demographic change in Native California Phillip L. Walker and Russell Thornton
18. Welfare history on the Great Plains S. Ryan Johansson and Douglas Owsley

Part VII
19. Patterns of health in the Western Hemisphere Richard H. Steckel and Jerome C. Rose

20. Conclusions Richard H. Steckel and Jerome C. Rose

Part IX. Epilogue
21. The body as evidence: the body of evidence George J. Armelagos and Peter J. Brown
22. Over-specialization and remedies Philip D. Curtin

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