A bioarchaeological analysis of burials at the Weaver site, Illinois
Lonergan, Nicholas E.
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A collection of skeletal material from the Weaver Site in Fulton County, Illinois, was examined to establish the composition and general health status of a sample of a prehistoric Native American population. The sample consisted of 34 individuals from three cultural periods: the Hopewell, Weaver, and Spoon River Mississippian. Individuals were evaluated for sex, age, stature, and dental wear. The presence of pathological conditions as indicated by skeletal markers was recorded. The markers assessed were cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis, periosteal infection, enamel hypoplasias, and dental caries, which are used to ascertain the nutritional and disease stress of a population. Evidence was also assessed for cases of unique, individual pathologies, including a case of scurvy—a disease little known in Midwest Native American populations. While the Weaver sample is too small to derive statistically significant trends, the following conclusions are supported. The Weaver individuals showed lower frequencies of cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis and periostitis than comparative frequencies in contrast populations from the same time period in Illinois. The conditions in the Weaver population were generally of low severity, as well. Mortality age distributions resemble published distributions for this time period. The general good health and resource availability of the Weaver population is supported by its lower frequency and severity of pathological markers, by the fact that 20% in a sample of 34 had an age of 50 years or greater, and by the presence of several very robust males.