Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology
Maria O. Smith
This research sought to examine a co-occurrence of three spinal pathologies, Schmorl’s nodes, osteophytosis, and osteoarthritis, within three temporally contiguous pre-Columbian sites in west-central Illinois. Albany Mounds (200 BCE – CE 400), Kuhlman Mounds (CE 600 - 900), and Dickson Mounds (CE 900 - ~1300), acted as proxies for their respective time periods in order to determine if there were any patterns among the three spinal pathologies present. Individuals with vertebrae present were examined and joints were scored based on criteria listed for each pathology. Overall, highest frequency of individuals affected by Schmorl’s nodes, osteophytosis, and osteoarthritis were located in the Dickson Mounds sample, providing evidence of a possible increase in mechanical stress and workload during the Middle Woodland Period. Highest frequency of Schmorl’s nodes overall were observed equally within Kuhlman and Dickson Mounds, while osteophytosis was observed most frequently in Kuhlman and osteoarthritis was observed most frequently within Albany. There were no joints with all three pathologies coinciding. Four individuals had all three pathologies present in one joint within the spine, but never co-occurring. There were however, thirteen individuals with a co-occurrence of two pathologies, the majority being Schmorl’s nodes and osteophytosis. Young Adults with Schmorl’s nodes in Dickson Mounds were found to be significantly higher than Young Adults in the other sites. Future research should include larger sample sizes and more consistent category sizes within the samples in order to limit gaps in data as well as skewed statistics due to small sample sizes.
Peeples, Abigail, "Time Does Not Heal All Wounds: Temporal Differences In Spinal Pathology Among Pre-Columbian Sites In West-Central Illinois" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 983.