Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 1:5-33 (2007)
A method for the study of activity related skeletal morphologies
Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom
Abstract: Our knowledge of the social and economic development of past societies and the people within
them can be increased through an understanding of specialized activities. If an activity was time-consuming
or arduous, especially when begun at an early age and the bones still growing, the bone morphology can be
modified and techniques of production used in the past are recorded. The predisposing requirements for bone
morphology to be distinctively modified are a restricted series of movements that are energetic and carried out
for long periods probably on a daily basis and from a young age. Interpretation of an activity depends on the
objective reconstruction of the biomechanical anatomy of the signs imprinted on the bones leading to a probability
based on a differential diagnosis of the possibilities, in much the same way that a clinician evaluates a
patient's signs and symptoms. The significant morphology is that which differs from the normal range for the
population being studied.
Key words: bone morphology; craft technology; differential diagnosis; load bearing; repetitive
activity; task related
Received 6 November 2007; accepted 23 January 2008; published online 15 March 2008.
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