2013 Volume 121 Issue 3 Pages 203-216
The purposes of this study are to conduct paleodemographic and paleopathological analyses of medieval human skeletons from Japan and to clarify their life and death situations. The materials used here were individuals from the Yuigahama-chusei-shudan-bochi site (Seika-ichiba location) (i.e. YCSB-SI), located along the Yuigahama seashore of the southern end of Kamakura City. Several new findings regarding the life and death situations of YCSB-SI were obtained: (1) YCSB-SI exhibited a younger age-at-death distribution than other skeletal series; (2) the frequency of caries lesions in YCSB-SI was 5%, females exhibited more caries lesions than males and this group exhibited the lowest caries prevalence rate among Japanese populations; (3) the frequencies of enamel hypoplasia were 67% in the upper central incisors and 73% in the lower canines, which were almost equal to those of non-medieval series; and (4) the presence of weapon-related traumas on the cranium and limb bones from YCSB-SI was demonstrated. It is inferred from the present and previously reported data that population concentration in Kamakura impacted negatively on the lives of the inhabitants, possibly by malnutrition, increase of infectious diseases, and occasionally death by violence, and that all the results can be consistently explained by assuming urbanization and severe living conditions in medieval Kamakura.