Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This study was conducted to evaluate the nutritional heal th status of prehistoric aboriginal populations from southern ontario. An investigation of femoral midshaft cross-sectional bone areas was undertaken to examine possible diachronic changes in these bone areas among three time periods represented by eight ontario skeletal samples. Each sample was chosen because it falls into a critical period in ontario prehistory. The samples included: Cameron's Point, Serpent Mounds and LeVesconte Mound Middle Woodland (MW) populations which practiced a hunter-gatherer economy; Bennett, Richardson, Miller and Serpent pits whose populations practiced a mixed economy supplemented by cultigens introduced prior to and during the Early ontario Iroquois (EOI) stage; and Orchid, a Middle ontario Iroquois (MOl) population which was supported by an increasing reliance on maize agriculture. It has been demonstrated that populations undergoing nutritional stress exhibit reduced cortical bone areas, in particular per cent cortical area (PCA). Furthermore, it has also been demonstrated that populations which rely heavily on a maize diet exhibit nutritional stress. Therefore, if later ontario aboriginal populations were heavily dependent on maize, there should be a diachronic change in the cross-sectional bone areas of these populations. A total of 343 femora were obtained from individuals of all ages and both sexes. The midshaft cross-sectional bone areas were measured using a Kroton MOP Video-Plan Stereological and Morphometric electronic digitizer. Only the adult samples of each time period included enough individuals to be statistically significant, and thus form the basis of the analysis. The results of this investigation indicate an overall maintenance of cross-sectional bone areas over time. The mean peA of the MW and Eor samples did not significantly differ from each other, perhaps indicating the maintenance of a mixed economy later supplemented by maize. The mean peA of the Mor sample is significantly greater than that of the EOI sample. The inclusion of beans into the later diet may have produced a diet of higher nutritional value, as indicated by this higher mean peA. However, the MOI sample may be composed of a greater number of younger adults, who would have a higher peA. Additionally, the mean peA of the MW and MOI samples do not differ significantly, again indicating the maintenance of a nutritionally varied diet.
Esler Jr, James Graham, "Nutritional Health In Prehistoric Southern Ontario" (1989). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7032.
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