Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder of the synovial joints which is frequently linked to activity and age, as well as numerous other etiologies. In particular, osteoarthritis of the shoulder is often shown to correlate with age, while osteoarthritis of the elbow is often shown to correlate with physical activity. The presence and pattern of osteoarthritis has been investigated in numerous Native American populations, but to date, its presence has not been investigated in the skeletal collection from the Tchefuncte site (16ST1), a Tchula Period shell midden site in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. Osteoarthritis of the upper limbs is examined in this population in order to assess patterns of activity as delineated by sex and age category, as well as to examine its co-morbidity with other pathologies (i.e., treponemal disease, cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, and dental pathologies). Ultimately, the small size and poor preservation of the 16ST1 skeletal sample prevented decisive conclusions. Nonetheless, the bioarchaeological evidence suggests that the Tchefuncte population generally experienced low levels of physical stress. For osteoarthritis, no group, defined either by age, sex, or burden of disease, appears to have been more physically stressed than any other. The presence of a few stand-out instances of moderate to severe osteoarthritis can likely be attributed to the longevity of most of the people in the sample, although disease or trauma may have contributed in some cases to the development of osteoarthritis, particularly in the case of one young (20-30 years) individual.



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Committee Chair

Lisit, Ginesse