Caring practices provided to diseased individuals in past populations are of interest in Bioarchaeology, with increasing literature describing community effort in the provision of care. The skeletal series from the Late Antique/Early Medieval cemetery of Selvicciola (Latium, Italy), included an elderly woman who revealed heterotopic ossification and ankylosis of the left hip. The extensive bone remodelling deformed the acetabulum, locking the femoral head within the joint. This caused a reduction in abduction/adduction movement of the leg and extended eburnation on the joint surfaces of the knees. The cervical vertebrae, the only preserved, were affected by severe osteoarthritis. The presence of large osteophytes on the bodies of the first five vertebrae were indicative of acute pain and a likely reduction in movement. To assess the effect of ankylosis of the left hip and related mobility, we applied morphometric maps of cortical thickness to both tibia and femur. Diet reconstruction by stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes analysis reveals a protein intake coherent with that of the other individuals analysed from Selvicciola necropolis (n=33). Our investigation suggests that for several years this woman had difficulty moving, and a progressive worsening of her condition resulted in her becoming highly dependent on other people. Her condition could not heal, nor a cure could be provided, nonetheless the community took care of her. The combination of palaeopathological, bioarchaeological and historical data allowed us to reconstruct an osteobiography of this elderly woman, which speaks of health care as a significant part of community life in the past.

Health care among an Early Medieval community in Italy (Selvicciola, 4th-8th centuries CE)

Carlotta Zeppilli
;
Ileana Micarelli;Sara Bernardini;Antonio Profico;Mary Anne Tafuri;Giorgio Manzi
2022

Abstract

Caring practices provided to diseased individuals in past populations are of interest in Bioarchaeology, with increasing literature describing community effort in the provision of care. The skeletal series from the Late Antique/Early Medieval cemetery of Selvicciola (Latium, Italy), included an elderly woman who revealed heterotopic ossification and ankylosis of the left hip. The extensive bone remodelling deformed the acetabulum, locking the femoral head within the joint. This caused a reduction in abduction/adduction movement of the leg and extended eburnation on the joint surfaces of the knees. The cervical vertebrae, the only preserved, were affected by severe osteoarthritis. The presence of large osteophytes on the bodies of the first five vertebrae were indicative of acute pain and a likely reduction in movement. To assess the effect of ankylosis of the left hip and related mobility, we applied morphometric maps of cortical thickness to both tibia and femur. Diet reconstruction by stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes analysis reveals a protein intake coherent with that of the other individuals analysed from Selvicciola necropolis (n=33). Our investigation suggests that for several years this woman had difficulty moving, and a progressive worsening of her condition resulted in her becoming highly dependent on other people. Her condition could not heal, nor a cure could be provided, nonetheless the community took care of her. The combination of palaeopathological, bioarchaeological and historical data allowed us to reconstruct an osteobiography of this elderly woman, which speaks of health care as a significant part of community life in the past.
File allegati a questo prodotto
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1657567
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact