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SHARP Human Remains Team at the BABAO annual conference

The SHARP Human Remains Team was accepted to present two posters at the 23rd Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology, the biggest UK osteoarchaeology conference.


The two posters discussed projects we have undertaken with our skeletons excavated from the early medieval burial ground in Sedgeford. The skeletons were excavated between 1996 and 2007, and since then we have been learning as much as we can about these individuals, using structural analysis and more complex new techniques.


The first project looked at the body mass of our skeletons. Previous work looking at isotopes in our population meant we had 26 femurs (thigh bones) with samples removed, giving us access to the centre of the bone. This meant we were able to do direct measurements here, giving us more detailed information about how the bones had grown – this relates directly to how much pressure is put on them, i.e. how heavy you are. Based on these measurements, our males had an average weight of 81.2kg, and females 65.4kg, and average BMI (body mass index) of 26.0 and 24.6 respectively. Our population is generally robust, with large muscle attachments. These measurements fit with this, with a skew to the upper end of “normal” for current populations. We know this was a hard-working, farming population, so it is likely this is showing muscle bulk rather than fat.

This individual died when they were aged around 12 years, and show signs that they were in their adolescent growth spurt.

The second project explored the timing of puberty in our skeletons, using an assessment scheme recently developed by Prof Mary Lewis and Dr Fiona Shapland. All of our skeletons have already been assessed in terms of their sex and approximate age at death, based on various parts of the skull and pelvis particularly. With the help of our Human Remains volunteers, we looked at all juvenile and younger adult skeletons for the six features in the pubertal assessment scheme. We showed that the Sedgeford population started puberty at around 6-10 years, with peak height velocity (the adolescent growth spurt) at around 11-14 years. This is slightly earlier than for later medieval and Roman populations that have been looked at elsewhere, which can be a sign of good general health.


Both projects have allowed us to learn more about the health and wellbeing of the people of early medieval Sedgeford, and it was lovely to share this work with a group of impressive osteoarchaeologists from across the world.


You can view our scientific posters for the body mass project, and the puberty project here.


BMI BABAO 2022
.pdf
Download PDF • 286KB
Puberty BABAO 2022
.pdf
Download PDF • 725KB


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