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The Backbone of History
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  • 64 b/w illus. 18 maps 140 tables
  • Page extent: 654 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 1.07 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 614.4/27
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: E59.F63 B33 2002
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Indians--Food--History--Congresses
    • Indians--Health and hygiene--History--Congresses
    • European Americans--Health and hygiene--History--Congresses
    • African Americans--Health and hygiene--History--Congresses
    • Human remains (Archaeology)--America--Congresses

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521801676 | ISBN-10: 0521801672)

For the same reasons that explorers of the early twentieth century strove to reach the poles, and their modern counterparts journey to outer space, most people want to visualize the contours of the human experience - the peaks of adaptive success that led to the expansion of civilization, and the troughs in which human presence ebbed. The Backbone of History defines the emerging field of macrobioarchaeology by gathering skeletal evidence on seven basic indicators of health to assess chronic conditions that affected individuals who lived in the Western Hemisphere from 5000 BC to the late nineteenth century. Signs of biological stress in childhood and of degeneration in joints and in teeth increased in the several millennia before the arrival of Columbus as populations moved into less healthy ecological environments. Thus, pre-Colombian Native Americans were among the healthiest and the least healthy groups to live in the Western Hemisphere before the twentieth century.

• Most comprehensive examination to date of skeletal measures of health • Based upon the work of highly interdisciplinary research teams • A self-contained presentation, with chapters on methodology, applications, and conclusions


Part I: 1. Introduction; Part II. Methodology: 2. Reconstructing health profiles from skeletal remains Alan H. Goodman and Debra L. Martin; 3. A health index from skeletal remains Richard H. Steckel, Paul W. Sciulli and Jerome C. Rose; 4. Paleodemography of the Americas Robert McCaa; Part III. Euro-Americans and African Americans in North America: 5. The health of the middle class: the St. Thomas Anglican church cemetery project Shelly Saunders, Ann Herring, Larry Sawchuck, Gerry Boyce, Rob Hoppa and Susan Klepp; 6. The poor in the mid-nineteenth century Northeastern United States Rosanne L. Higgins, Michael R. Haines, Lorena Walsh and Joyce E. Sirianni; 7. The effects of nineteenth-century military service on health Paul S. Sledzik and Lars G. Sandberg; 8. The health of slaves and free blacks in the East Ted A. Rathbun and Richard H. Steckel; 9. The quality of African American life in the Southwest near the turn of the twentieth century James Davidson, Jerome Rose, Myron Gutmann, Michael Haines, Keith Condon and Cindy Condon; Part IV. Native Americans in Central America: 10. Social disruption and the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica Rebecca Storey, Lourdes Marquez Morfin and Vernon Smith; 11. Health and nutrition in some Prehispanic Mesoamerican populations related with their way of life Lourdes Marquez Morfin, Robert McCaa, Rebecca Storey and Andres Del Angel; Part V. Native Americans and Euro-Americans in South America: 12. Patterns of health and nutrition in prehistoric and historic Ecuador Douglas H. Ubelaker and Linda A. Newson; 13. Economy, nutrition and disease in Southern, Coastal Brazil Walter Neves and Verônica Wesolowski; Part VI. Native Americans in North America: 14. A biohistory of health and behavior in the Georgia Bight Clark Larsen, Alfred Crosby, et al.; 15. Native Americans of Eastern North America Paul W. Sciulli and James Oberly; 16. Cultural longevity in the face of biological stress Ann L. W. Stodder, Debra L. Martin, Alan H. Goodman and Daniel T. Reff; 17. Health, nutrition, and demographic change in Native California Phillip L. Walker and Russell Thornton; 18. Welfare history on the Great Plains S. Ryan Johansson and Douglas Owsley; Part VII: 19. Patterns of health in the Western Hemisphere Richard H. Steckel and Jerome C. Rose; Part VIII: 20. Conclusions Richard H. Steckel and Jerome C. Rose; Part IX. Epilogue: 21. The body as evidence: the body of evidence George J. Armelagos and Peter J. Brown; 22. Over-specialization and remedies Philip D. Curtin.


Alan H. Goodman, Debra L. Martin, Richard H. Steckel, Paul W. Sciulli, Jerome C. Rose, Robert McCaa, Shelly Saunders, Ann Herring, Larry Sawchuck, Gerry Boyce, Rob Hoppa, Susan Klepp, Rosanne L. Higgins, Michael R. Haines, Lorena Walsh, Joyce E. Sirianni, Paul S. Sledzik, Lars G. Sandberg, Ted A. Rathbun, James Davidson, Myron Gutmann, Michael Haines, Keith Condon, Cindy Condon, Rebecca Storey, Lourdes Marquez Morfin, Vernon Smith, Rebecca Storey, Andres Del Angel, Douglas H. Ubelaker, Linda A. Newson, Walter Neves, Verônica Wesolowski, Clark Larsen, Alfred Crosby, James Oberly, Ann L. W. Stodder, Debra L. Martin, Daniel T. Reff, Phillip L. Walker, Russell Thornton, S. Ryan Johansson, Douglas Owsley, Richard H. Steckel, George J. Armelagos, Peter J. Brown, Philip D. Curtin

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