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Arch Hellen Med, 37(6), November-December 2020, 791-795


Osteoarthritis in the early medieval period. An example from the necropolis of Straubing in Lower Bavaria

L. Konstantinou,1 M. Schultz2
1Hellenic Anthropological Society, Museum of Anthropology, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece,
2Zentrum Anatomie, Department of Morphology, School of Medicine, Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

A total of 314 adult human skeletons from the east part of the necropolis "Straubing-Bajuvarenstrasse" have been examined. The grave offerings, in combination with soil study and the available historical evidence, have greatly contributed to definition of the chronological era of the burial in the early medieval period. Animal bones were also recorded, but not further evaluated for pathological findings on their surface. A study was made of degenerative arthropathy in the large joints of the human skeletons, its frequency, the degree of deterioration, and its association with the general picture of daily life. A high frequency of osteoarthritis was observed in both the upper and lower extremities, in various different joints, even at younger ages. The highest incidence and the greatest severity of degenerative lesions were observed in the hip joint. Especially women of early adult age, and mainly from the lower social classes, showed an increase in degenerative changes. Epigenetic features, which appear, for example, in the shoulder and elbow, were recorded, and correlated with the parallel appearance of degenerative lesions. The main findings of this study are typical, both of the way of living in a wide geographical area around Alps, and of the chronological period of covering three centuries of the early medieval era.

Key words: Degenerative joint disease, Medieval, Osteoarthritis, Paleopathology.

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