Funerary anthropology and paleobiology of Portugueses post-medieval populations: Nossa Senhora da Anunciada and Espírito Santo

Leading researcher: Nathalie Antunes Ferreira
Research group: Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography
Type of project: Doctoral research
Status: Concluded
Keywords: Setúbal | Loures | Post-medieval | Funerary anthropology | Paleobiology | Inequalities | Health


Main institution: CRIA
Participant institutions: n.a.
Funding: FCT
Reference: SFRH/BD/70158/2010
Starting date: 16-07-09

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Abstract

Socioeconomic inequalities in health is the main issue addressed in this thesis. Two skeletal samples – church of Nossa Senhora da Anunciada (Setúbal) and chapel of Espírito Santo (Loures) – with differentiated socioeconomic status and chronologically framed in the post-medieval period, between the 16th and 19th centuries, were selected to explore the topic. To achieve the main objective the samples were thoroughly examined, with their funerary context and Paleobiology studied in detail. The results obtained were then used to selected the social and biological indicators of socioeconomic inequalities used in this thesis. These indicators were based on literature review, similar studies, and their comparability between the populations under study. The specific aim was to test socioeconomic inequalities, and if these inequalities could be inferred via these indicators bearing in mind that the samples were well contextualized, and there was prior knowledge that differences existed. Differences were expected to be found in the funerary context, as well as developmental and health patterns since these are documented to be affected by socioeconomic inequalities. This corresponded to the second part of the thesis. The general characterization of the funerary context showed that within the church of N. Sra. da Anunciada, located in the Bairro do Troino, inhabited by a segment of the population socially disadvantaged, there were 93 primary and 155 secondary burials, which were held in open pits in the ground and revealing an almost absence of grave goods and coffins. On the other hand, the chapel of the Espírito Santo had 46 primary and 30 secondary burials that were exclusively found in crypts, having individuals been buried in coffins, some identified and with associated grave goods. The paleobiological analysis revealed that both populations were composed of individuals of both sexes and different age brackets, with a higher predominance of females. The morphological analysis showed the discrete and metric characters, as well as the stature of the individuals, the latter being also referred to in the study of socioeconomic inequalities. The paleopathological study revealed the presence of several bone changes relevant as skeletal indicators of physiological stress, as well as a serious of isolated paleopathological cases worthy of note. Based on this first analysis, the second part of the thesis focused on its specific objective. The results showed that the socioeconomic indicators of inequalities, which comprised the location of the burial, coffins and grave goods had a strong association with the individuals socioeconomic status, while the biological indicators suggested a less clear indication of association with the individuals socioeconomic status. The biological indicators – growth, stature, caries, tooth loss ante mortem, cribra orbitalia, hyperostosis porotic, dental enamel hypoplasia linear, new bone formation in the bilateral tibiae, fractures, osteoarthritis, entheseal changes and DISH – highlighted that inferences on socioeconomic inequalities based on biology required a complex and cautionary interpretation. It was concluded that the interpretation of socioeconomic inequalities based on biological indicators must be prudent, since in most cases there is not a direct evidence of association with the individuals socioeconomic status.

Researchers from CRIA

IDNamePositionProjTitleProject typeStatus
pub41*Cláudia SousaSupervisorproj116*Funerary anthropology and paleobiology of Portugueses post-medieval populations: Nossa Senhora da Anunciada and Espírito SantoDoctoral researchConcluded
pub59*Francisca Alves CardosoSupervisorproj116*Funerary anthropology and paleobiology of Portugueses post-medieval populations: Nossa Senhora da Anunciada and Espírito SantoDoctoral researchConcluded
pub249*Nathalie Antunes FerreiraResearch scholarproj116*Funerary anthropology and paleobiology of Portugueses post-medieval populations: Nossa Senhora da Anunciada and Espírito SantoDoctoral researchConcluded
Other researchers

ResearcherPositionInstitutionProjOutrosTitulo_EN
Eugénia CunhaSupervisorCIAS-UCproj116*Funerary anthropology and paleobiology of Portugueses post-medieval populations: Nossa Senhora da Anunciada and Espírito Santo