Anthropological Science (Japanese Series)
Online ISSN : 1348-8813
Print ISSN : 1344-3992
ISSN-L : 1344-3992
Original Articles
Health inequalities within urban settlements based on human skeletal remains: The case of Edo period Kokura city
Hirotaka Tomita
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2021 Volume 129 Issue 2 Pages 35-52

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Abstract

Socio-economic inequality is known as one factor affecting human health, and it leads to health inequalities. This study aimed to clarify the relationship between socio-economic and health inequalities within one city during the Edo period. This study utilized 77 human skeletal remains, which were estimated to be from individuals of the samurai caste during the Edo period, across 2 sites (the Kaizenji Temple site and the Kyomachi site) within the city of Kokura in Northern Kyushu, Japan. This study examined the age at death, the frequencies of enamel hypoplasia, cribra orbitalia, dental caries, and antemortem tooth loss, and investigated archaeological information about the cemeteries, such as differential mortuary treatment, elaborateness of graves, density of graves, and the quantity of burial goods. Results showed that females from the Kaizenji temple site died significantly earlier than males from the Kaizenji temple site. Also, the frequencies of enamel hypoplasia, dental caries, and antemortem tooth loss in the Kaizenji Temple site tended to be lower than in the Kyomachi site. In addition, the density of graves and the proportion of jar coffins differed between the two sites and suggests the possibility that the Kaizenji Temple site contained a group with higher socio-economic status than the Kyomachi site. These results from two archaeological sites in Kokura city confirmed that socio-economic inequality indeed impacted health status during the Edo period.

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