Anthropological Science
Online ISSN : 1348-8570
Print ISSN : 0918-7960
ISSN-L : 0918-7960
Early stress variation reflected in adult vertebral neural canal size within a medieval silver-mining population from Kutná Hora (Czech Republic)
Hana BrzobohatáFilip VelímskýJan Frolík
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JOURNAL FREE ACCESS Advance online publication
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Article ID: 231017


Previous bioarchaeological and auxological research has indicated that stunting the growth of vertebral measures, specifically those of the vertebral neural canal (VNC), provides a record of stressful early-childhood episodes that persists into adulthood. The main goal of this study was to investigate possible VNC size variation within the specific context of a medieval silver-mining site. Skeletons unearthed recently at Kutná Hora–Sedlec (Czech Republic) represent a population that lived there during its most prosperous era (13th–16th centuries). During this period, Kutná Hora residents could have faced both environmental and cultural conditioned stressors. In a total of 207 individuals examined in this study, we measured anteroposterior (AP) and transverse (TR) vertebral neural canal dimensions together with anterior vertebral body height (BH) in thoracic (Th10–Th12) and lumbar (L1–5) vertebrae, and analysed them for association with sex, age-at-death, and burial context (individual vs mass graves). These intra-site comparisons revealed that: (1) male diameters were consistently larger than female; (2) males with stunted AP and TR diameters were less likely to survive into mature adulthood; (3) the relationship between early life stress and burial context was very weak (in females) or non-existent (in males); and (4) the TR dimension of the vertebral neural canal was more prone to growth disruption than the AP or BH diameters.

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