Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology
Maria O. Smith
This investigation establishes the presence of rotator cuff disease (RCD) within human skeletal samples from a prehistoric North American context and evaluates the subsistence based (hunter-gatherer an agricultural) differences of the pathological and non-pathological osseous reactive change. The skeletal sample as recovered as a part of an archaeological salvage project from the western Tennessee River Valley prior to the 1944 completion of the Kentucky Lake Dam. The sites consist of three Middle and Late Archaic (4500-1000 BCCE) period hunter-gatherers and one Mississippian (1050-1450 CE) period agriculturalist sample. These sites are now submerged in the Kentucky Late Reservoir.
The bone elements of the rotator cuff which were examined were the humeral head, the lateral clavicle, and the acromion process of the scapula. Aspects of RCD evident on dry bone (enthesopathies, degenerative joint disease) and skeletal and entheseal robusticity were examined to provide an image of mechanical stress as possible behavior correlates within the region and between subsistence strategies.
RCD was found to be ubiquitous in both the hunter-gatherer and agriculturalist samples. Examination between the subsistence strategies indicates that the Mississippian sample was subject to higher overall mechanical stress. Furthermore, the Mississippian sample had greater skeletal robusticity than the Archaic sample. Although both subsistence economies are labor intensive, there is more shoulder stressing behavior evident in the food-producers.
Neidich, Deborah Lyn, "A comparative study of upper limb mechanical stress in the Pre-Colombian Tennessee River Valley" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 194.