Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 14:xx-xx (2020)

Entheseal changes in the Hellenistic-Roman population of Boğazköy, Turkey. Evidence for gender division of labor?

Handan Üstündağ

Department of Archaeology, Anadolu University,
26470 Eskişehir, Turkey

Abstract: Entheseal changes (EC) are changes to areas where connective tissue (tendon or ligament) attaches to bone. Previous studies have suggested that heavy physical activity has an effect on EC development, among other factors such as age, body size, and (male) sex. In this study, EC in the upper limbs was examined in a Hellenistic-Roman rural population from Boğazköy, Turkey to assess gender differences in activity patterns. EC was positively correlated with age at death, and therefore, old adults were excluded when comparing the EC scores of males and females. Significant differences in EC between the sexes were tentatively considered as an indicator of gender-specific activities. Females exhibited significantly higher EC scores at the common extensor muscles’ origin site (lateral epicondyle of the humerus), with a right-sided dominance. Common extensor muscles are related to movements of the wrist. It is assumed that the repetitive labor of weaving, spinning, and grinding may have caused these changes. Significantly higher EC scores in males than females were found only in the insertion site of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles (greater tubercle of the humerus). EC scores in this shoulder-related enthesis also showed a right-sided dominance. It is assumed that some activities performed by males, such as woodcutting, shoveling, and building-related activities may have caused EC in this enthesis.

Key words: upper limb; lateral epicondylitis; activity patterns

Received 13 May 2020; accepted 2 November 2020; published online 3 December 2020.

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