2010 AAA BAS Student Paper/Poster Award Results

BAS 2010 student award winners:

Allison Foley (paper)
DISABILITY AND DISEASE IN THE ANCIENT MIDWEST: A PALEOPATHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF THE MORTON SITE, IL
While infectious disease and trauma are perhaps more striking in their abruptness, congenital disorders affect, and at times define, an individual’s lifelong health and social status. The paleopathological study of congenital disorders allows bioarchaeologists to understand the diversity and scope of these disorders in archaeological populations and can perhaps even hint at issues of biological heritability and social identity. The Morton Site, located within the Central Illinois River Valley, sits approximately 260 km northeast of the Mississippian site of Cahokia. Excavated in the early 1930’s by the University of Chicago, the Morton’s nineteen mortuary mounds date from the Red Ochre period (1200-400 B.C.) through to the terminus of the Mississippian period (1300 A.D.) and therefore provides an excellent backdrop for bioarchaeological analysis. Skeletal remains from the site, curated by Indiana University-Bloomington, exhibit a variety of disabilities and congenital disorders ranging from hemimelia to torticollis to brachydactyly. Many of these pathologies would not only have impacted the individuals’ overall health and lifestyle, but would also have been perceptible to the community at large. Interestingly, the archaeological record indicates that mortuary treatment was relatively egalitarian throughout the site, implying that physical disability did not confer an observable negative social status. This paper will present paleopathological diagnoses of congenital disorders within the prehistoric Morton population and address the relationship between social identity, mortuary treatment and overall health within the population.

Honorable Mentions (listed alphabetically):
Allison Cantor (poster)
MATERNAL DIET IN RURAL COSTA RICA: IDENTIFYING CULTURAL NORMS AND CHANGING TRENDS WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR THE DEVELOPMENTAL ORIGINS OF OBESITY-RELATED DISORDERS.

This poster is based on an investigation carried out in a rural tourist community in Costa Rica that aimed to identify traditional dietary norms and practices during pregnancy and nursing. Previous research in Monteverde, Costa Rica found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity, as well as reports of food insecurity, were high for women in the area. Recent research in the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease has linked poor maternal nutrition, as well as maternal overweight/obesity, with an increased risk of chronic disease throughout the lifecourse of offspring. Further research is warranted to understand how this paradigm can be applied within a local context. This investigation used a mixed methods approach to better understand if, and how, cultural norms and practices surrounding maternal diet during pregnancy and nursing may have changed since tourism began to transform the local economy, 15-20 years ago. Using cross-cultural categories recognized in the ethnographic literature, maternal dietary practices were identified in the local community through surveys and participant-observation. To reflect the actual consumption patterns of pregnant and nursing women in the area, 24-hour diet recalls were administered to pregnant and nursing women, and focus groups were employed to determine the impacts of tourism on maternal diet. Results indicate that a difference in dietary behaviors during pregnancy/nursing was clearly expressed between older and younger mothers in the community. Dietary delocalization and the prevalence of overweight and obesity among women in the community have potential implications for the developmental origins of obesity-related disorders.

Carolyn Jost Robinson (paper, w/Melissa Remis)
SYNERGISTIC HUMAN-WILDLIFE RELATIONSHIPS IN A PROTECTED AREA: ECOLOGICAL AND POLITICAL ENTANGLEMENTS.
Researchers across a number of disciplines have struggled to understand the entanglement of human-environment relationships. Nowhere is this more apparent than among communities situated within protected areas, which often rely on wild game meat as an integral component of daily livelihoods and income. Additionally, peoples’ reliance on wildlife extends beyond the economic and material into the symbolic domain. While many anthropologists have addressed the co-construction of the nature/culture hybrid, research demonstrates the likelihood that long-term interactions between humans and tropical forest ecosystems have shaped current wildlife assemblages. This paper situates the material realm of hunting, hunters, and hunted within narratives of identity formation and migration histories of hunters in the Dzanga Sangha Dense Forest Reserve (RDS) Central African Republic (CAR). Patterns of wildlife use and hunting strategies at RDS are related to migration histories and the individual’s perception of space and place. The diversity of ecological knowledge, participation in varied methods of hunting, and concepts of identity and power are visible in an individual’s ability to negotiate and profit from life in a protected area. Ethnographic interviews further suggest the presence of a symbiotic and synergistic relationship whereby wildlife and hunters each continually adapt to each other’s behavioral and ecological responses. These findings contribute to the development of new understandings of unbounded permeable ecosystems where human-environment interactions can only be understood through a combination of the examination of the material and political aspects of life in and around protected areas.

Mary Beth Timm (paper, w/Debra Martin and Jamie Vilos)
FISHING AND FARMING IN THE DESERT: AN ANALYSIS OF SACRO-ILIAC ENTHESES IN A BRONZE AGE (C. 2200-2000 BC) POPULATION
Ancient populations living on the Arabian Peninsula 4000 years ago would have had to adapt to a relatively challenging environment due to the desert landscape, high temperatures and humid coastal area. In the Umm an-Nar period of the Bronze Age (c. 2200-2000 BC), life at the sites such as Tell Abraq is poorly understood. Although diet may have been varied and plentiful, extracting food from this landscape would have taken a coordinated workforce. Faunal and artifact analysis suggests a mixed economy that included fish, domesticated sheep and goats, and cultigens (barley, wheat, and date palms). The biocultural costs of adapting to this environment are currently unknown. The Tell Abraq population offers a unique opportunity to analyze past human activities through entheses (enlarged muscle attachment sites). In particular, analysis of the os coxae and the sacrum illuminates participation in load bearing activities (accessory sacro-iliac articulations on both sacra and os coxae), hip alterations (facies lunata enlargements and acetabular flange lesions), and habitual excessive sitting (ischial osteitis), all of which are present in the Tell Abraq population. Sacra and os coxae are also used to answer larger questions about differences in prevalence by sex and age, thereby clarifying division of labor by sex.

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