The osseous material of the Anatomy Museum of UFPA: paleobiological study

Leading researcher: Francisca Alves Cardoso
Research group: Practices and Politics of Culture
Type of project: International project
Status: Concluded
Keywords: Museums | Human osteology | Paleobiology | Paleopathology | Amazon

Main institution: UFPA (Brasil)
Participant institutions: n.a.
Funding: CNPq (Brasil)
Reference: CNPq 400998/2010-6
Starting date: 01-07-10

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The primary aim of this project is the paleobiological study of the human bones which are part of the osseous collection of the Anatomy Museum of the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), and the Biological Anthropology Laboratory of the Institute of Biological Sciences of UFPA. This project will be a contribution to the knowledge about present and past populations of the Amazonian region, specifically of Pará. It will also make way for an improvement of the teaching conditions of the discipline of Biological Anthropology at UFPA, and to the institutional development of UFPA itself, and its internationalization. In sum, results of this study will allow: 1) the creation of the first paleobiological analysis parameters for the populations of the Pará State, which will be the basis for the implementation of a osteological reference collection; 2) to offer a concise analysis of the osseous collections and its principal morphological, demographic and paleopatological characteristics; 3) the identification of pathological cases that can be used in several disciplines taught in UFPA, since medical sciences to the Biological Anthropology; 4) the creation of a database to be used for comparisons with other – international – populations, thus promoting institutional collaboration; 5) paper publishing at national and international levels over the material under study, with an emphasis in the Paleobiological component of the project but never dismissing its institutional (UFPA), regional (State of Pará, Amazon region), national and international contextualization. We expect to make a contribution to the knowledge about the past and present Amazonian populations, in a way similar to other international studies (Roberts and Cox 2003; L’Abbé and Steyn 2007; Rojas-Sepúlveda, Ardagna et al. 2008). The results of the study of bone material will pave the way for a discussion over aspects of human biology and behaviour based on assumptions from Biological Anthropology, Archaeology and History, amongst other disciplines (Larsen 2000; Larsen 2002; Buikstra and Beck 2006; Alves Cardoso 2008; Pinhasi and Mays 2008). This type of studies – broadly called paleobiological studies, or, as some researchers call them, bioarchaeological studies – seek to enhance the socio-cultural dynamics of human communities and its impact in the human organism (Katzenberg and Saunders 2000; Pinhasi and Mays 2008). Generally, the paleobiological studies favour a population approach, one that seeks patterns of population development through mortality rates, mean life-expectancy and other human demography parameters; populational-type patterns, such as the presence of different morphological characteristics, the toughness of the skeleton and the height of the individuals; and, mostly, population sanitary patterns in which paleoepidemiology of past populations can be discussed. Which diseases are more present? Were there changes in its frequency along the years? What is the population morbidity rate? Besides population-related questions, also important is the study at an individual level – osteobiographies offer information which contributes to the strengthening of the criteria for pathologies that leave their marks on bones, such as syphilis, tuberculosis, leprosy, arthrosis and other degenerative-articular pathologies. It also allows a more concise study over human variability in general, between sexes and ages. This project will implement academic-scientific studies with this characteristics in the Amazon region, making way for new research trends and for a better understanding of the past.

Researchers from CRIA

IDNamePositionProjTitleProject typeStatus
pub59*Francisca Alves CardosoPrincipal Investigatorproj174*The osseous material of the Anatomy Museum of UFPA: paleobiological studyInternational projectConcluded
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