INFECTIOUS DISEASE AS AN INDICATOR OF PHYSIOLOGICAL STRESS IN THE MIDDLE HOLOCENE CIS-BAIKAL
Two distinct hunter-fisher-gatherer cultures lived on either side of a Middle Neolithic (or MN; 7,000/6,800–6,000/5,800 B.P.) archaeological hiatus in the Cis-Baikal, Siberia, Russian Federation. The Kitoi occupied the region in the Early Neolithic (or EN; 8,000–7,000/6,800 B.P.) and the Isakovo-Serovo-Glazkovo (or ISG) occupied the region in the Late Neolithic (or LN; 6,000/5,800–5,200 B.P.) into the Early Bronze Age (or EBA; 5,200/5,000–3,400 B.P.; Weber et al. 2015). Both of these cultures buried their dead in formal cemeteries located adjacent to the shores of Lake Baikal and along the many rivers of the Cis-Baikal. Research concerning the levels of physiological stress in the two cultures has found that the Kitoi suffered from more frequent and severe episodes of physiological stress than did the ISG (Lieverse et al. 2007a; Link 1999; Temple et al. 2014; Waters-Rist 2011; Waters-Rist et al. 2011). A detailed non-destructive visual examination of the osteological remains of 250 hunter-fisher-gatherers from three cemeteries (Shamanka II, Lokomotiv, and Ust’-Ida I) from the middle Holocene Cis-Baikal was carried out to determine if non-specific infection-induced lesions occurred significantly more in those populations who were found to have been the most physiological stressed. An endoscope was used to examine individuals’ middle ears and those sinuses that were unobservable to the human eye and were accessible through cracks in the skull; and a hand-held x-ray system was used to image individuals’ mastoid processes. One question was asked of the presence/absence data: is the incidence of infection-induced lesions within the sample related to a) the type of infection, b) the sex of the individual, c) the age of the individual, d) the cemetery the individual came from, and/or e) the time period the individual lived in? To answer this question, binomial tests, chi-square tests, and generalized linear model logistic regression tests were conducted. These revealed the presence of statistically more lesions indicative of chronic non-specific infection in EN individuals, more specifically, in those from the cemetery of Lokomotiv, in males, and in those older than 20 years. It was concluded that non-specific infection-induced lesions occurred more in those populations who were found to have been the most physiological stressed. This study is in line with our understanding of stress, provides a much more detailed view into the community health of the Kitoi and the ISG than was previously known, and explores the lifeways of these two cultures through a new lens.
Paleopathology, Cis-Baikal, infection, physiological stress
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Archaeology and Anthropology