Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Little research considers the vertebral column in relation to inter-populational variation and changes in economic lifestyle. Numerous studies have been conducted regarding the influence of activity-related stress on post-cranial elements such as the knees, hips and shoulders, but few studies have considered the vertebral column. This study examined the vertebral columns of two prehistoric skeletal populations. The Indian Knoll site, home to a population of early hunter-gatherers, is located in Ohio County, Kentucky along the Green River. Indian Knoll was first excavated in 1915 by C.B. Moore. The Moundville site, a chiefdom of early agriculturalists, is located in the Black Warrior River Valley in west-central Alabama and was first excavated by the Alabama State Museum of Natural History in 1929. Data were collected and analyzed based on type and location of pathologies to determine if economic lifestyle led to inter-populational differences in vertebral pathologies including osteoarthritic and osteophytic development and vertebral compression fractures (n=98 Indian Knoll and n=58 Moundville). Vertebrae were scored from 0-3 based on severity of osteoarthritic and osteophytic development. Results show that males had significantly higher frequency of osteoarthritis, osteophytosis and compression fractures than females in Indian Knoll, whereas there was no significant difference in frequencies of these pathologies between the sexes in Moundville. Results also show that Indian Knoll and Moundville were not significantly different from one another in frequency of both osteoarthritis and osteophytosis. However, there was a significant difference in compression fractures between both populations. Results indicate a relationship between economic lifestyle with compression fractures, but not with osteoarthritis and osteophytosis.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Brophy, Juliet