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Environmental stress in the Early Mediaeval Slavic population at Borovce (Slovakia)

HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jchb.2004.07.005
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Abstract Several palaeopathological indicators examined in skeletal samples are caused by stress during childhood and remain visible in adults. In this study, dental enamel hypoplasia was observed in 451 individuals from the Early Mediaeval (8th to beginning of 12th c. AD) Slavic skeletal series at Borovce (Slovakia). The presence of enamel hypoplasia was scored in all types of deciduous and permanent teeth. More than one-fourth (27.2%) of the individuals with preserved permanent teeth showed enamel hypoplasia. No significant differences in the occurrence of the enamel lesions were found between males and females. The age at development of hypoplasias was estimated for 74 individuals by measuring the distance of the defect from the cemento-enamel junction. The hypoplastic defects appeared most frequently between 2.5 and 3.0 years. Following the trends observed in the distribution of age at development of the enamel lesions between subadults and adults, individuals stressed earlier in life had a reduced ability to cope with later insults. High prevalence of enamel hypoplasia, especially among 10–14-year-old growing juveniles, has led to the assumption that the Borovce population lived a considerably long period under conditions of high environmental pathogen load, and probably also suffered from some nutritional deficiencies.

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