Bio-cultural Approach to the Osteoarchaeological Inquiries in China

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Osteoarchaeological research in China has traditionally focused on questions of population affinity to investigate the relationships among ancient groups. While such studies have produced valuable information on past populations, one result has been to stress the biological over the bio-cultural interpretation of the human past. The aim of this session is to provide more nuanced explorations of health, disease, and behavior through contextualized bio-archaeological analyses of human skeletal remains from a diverse array of environmental and cultural settings in ancient China. Contributors of this session will address questions within the bio-cultural framework that integrates biological data from human remains with their cultural and ecological contexts. Our goal is to offer new perspectives in the study of human adaptation and life-ways in ancient China.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-15 of 15)

  • Documents (15)

  • Ancient DNA of a nomadic population provides evidence of the genetic structure of the royal ancient Mongols (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jiawei Li. Ye Zhang. Xiyan Wu. Yongbin Zhao. Hui Zhou.

    The genetic diversity of the ancient Mongols, especially the Gold family of Genghis Khan remains unclear. Gangga site was a nomadic site dated to the 8th to 10th centuries AD in the HulunBuir grassland, northeast China. This site belonged to the Shiwei population, believed to be the direct ancestors of the ancient Mongols. Nine graves at the Gangga site were excavated with log coffins, which were considered the characteristic burial custom of the royal ancient Mongols, included the Gold family...

  • Artificial cranial modifications of human remains from archeological sites in China (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ying Nie. Dong Wei. Hua Zhang. Dongya Yang. Hong Zhu.

    This paper explores artificial cranial deformation from two archaeological sites in China. Jilintai cemetery (2500 – 2000BP) is located in Yili region, northwestern Xinjiang, and Yingpan cemetery (2000 – 1500BP) is located in Yuli county, northeastern Xinjiang. A total of 253 crania (202 from Jilintai and 51 from Yingpan) were examined in this study. Crania were measured according to the Standards Book, and 11 angles and 6 indices were calculated. Statistical analyses include discriminant...

  • Cranial Trepanations in Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Xinjiang (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dong Wei. Si Yang.

    Trepanation is defined as the intentional removal of a piece of bone from the cranial vault of a living individual without penetration of the underlying soft tissues. In China, practicing trepanation can be traced back to the Neolithic, and it can still be found today in some populations in other parts of the world. Nine skulls with lesions from four Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age cemeteries (Yaer from Hami, Goukou from Jinghe, Yanghai from Tulufan, and Choumeigou from Changji) (4000BP–2000...

  • Dental Micro-wear Analysis and Diets of Dacaozi Ancient Population in Qinghai, China (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tao Han. Wenxin Zhang. Xingyu Man Man. Anqi Wang. Xiaofang Gao.

    Dental microwear analysis (DMA) focuses on the microscopic scratches and pits that formed on a tooth's surface as the result of chewing which is a useful approach to reconstruct the diets of animal species and human ancestors. The aim of this study is to use this new method to reconstruct the diets of the Dacaozi ancient population, whom lived in the ancient interactive region of agricultural and nomadic economy in Qinghai Province, northwest China. Different micro-wear patterns of scratches on...

  • Health and Stress of Neolithic Yangshao Culture Skeletal Population from Wanggou Site, Zhengzhou (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Yawei Zhou. Qipeng Yan. Wanfa Gu.

    The Wanggou site, located in the Lower Yellow River valley, is a large Yangshao culture cemetery, dating to 7000-5000 BP. Two hundred and eleven skeletons were examined for variations from normal morphology, including non-metric traits, to characterized pathology of the Neolithic Age residents of Central China. This paper examined skeletal evidence of bone disease, trauma and musculo-skeletal stress markers (MSM) of ancient residents. A prevalence of spina bifida, spondylolysis, lumbarization,...

  • Heath and Stress of Ancient People on the Shanbei Loess Slope in China: The Social and Environmental Impact (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Liang Chen. Yan Zhang. Jing Zhao. Zhouyong Sun. Elizabeth Berger.

    This paper investigates the impact of social and environmental changes on the health of people living during the Warring States period (ca. 5th – 13th Century B.C.) on the Shanbei Loess Slope, a marginal area that connects the Guanzhong Plain and the Shanbei Plateau. Two human skeletal assemblages representing two different cultural settings, but with a longstanding history of conflict, were selected: (1) Zhaitouhe cemetery (n=73) (Xirong Culture, the minority) and (2) Shijiahe cemetery (n=33)...

  • Late Bronze Age women of the steppe frontier: a bioarchaeological analysis of multiple sites in northern China (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jacqueline Eng. Quan-chao Zhang. Hong Zhu.

    The late Bronze Age in the Inner Asian steppe was a transitional period, with the adoption of mobile herding, as well as increasing sociopolitical interaction and complexity among groups in this region. Although archaeological studies have indicated that many steppe groups engaged in a variety of subsistence practices, pastoralism in general has been characterized as a rather uniform lifestyle; and nomadic pastoralism in particular has been associated more often with the role of males, i.e., as...

  • Migration and Diversity in Ancient Xinjiang: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Investigation of Adunqiaolu Population (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Minghui Wang. Dexin Cong.

    The Adunqiaolu site, located in western Xinjiang, belongs to the early Bronze Age and dates to the 19-17 centuries B.C. Archaeological evidence suggests that this group of people may have come from southern and/or southwest Siberia, north of Tianshan. Applying both cranial-metrics and aDNA analysis, this study explores regional variations in western Xinjiang and their relationships to other ancient populations. Ancient DNA analysis indicates that their genes are mainly European, specifically...

  • Oral Health and Dental Attrition of Human Remains from Tianli Cemetery, Xinzheng (ca. 8th-5th Century B.C.) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lei Sun. Wenquan Fan. Ligang Zhou.

    Oral health (caries, antemortem tooth loss (AMTL), enamel hypoplasia, and dental attrition were assessed in human remains from Tianli cemetery, Xinzheng, Central China (Zhou Dynasty, ca. 8th-5th Century B.C.). This study explores diet and eating habits in a population practicing dry land agriculture. Males exhibited greater frequencies of enamel hypoplasia than females. In contrast females suffered more from caries, AMTL, and tooth wear than males. Heavy wear on the upper anterior teeth is...

  • Osteoarthritis, Labour Division, and Occupational Specialization of the Late Shang China – Insights from Yinxu (ca. 1250 – 1046 B.C.) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Hua Zhang. Deborah C. Merrett. Zhichun Jing. Jigen Tang. Dongya Y. Yang.

    This study investigates the prevalence of osteoarthritis of commoners at Yinxu, the last capital of the Late Shang dynasty (ca. 1250 – 1046 B.C.), to study lifeways and stress of early urban populations in ancient China. A total of 197 adult skeletal human remains from five sites were analyzed to examine eight joints of upper and lower limbs in addition to three indicators of spinal osseous changes. The clear sex difference of elevated osteoarthritis prevalence in males indicates a strong gender...

  • Preliminary Analysis on the Health Status of Human Skeletal Remains from Ali Region of Tibet (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Xu Zhang. Yajun Zhang. Tao Tong.

    The Tibet Autonomous Region is located on the Tibetan Plateau,which is one of the most active areas in the development and interaction of ancient cultures. Human remains from Gur-gyam cemetery (1800±BP) in Gar County(often known as "Ali"), Ngari Prefecture of the western Tibet Autonomous Region of China is a group of inhabitants during the Xiang Xiong Kingdom period. It lies in front of a modern Bon monastery of Gur-gyam, which affirmed the capital of the ancient Xiang Xiong Kingdom based on...

  • Preliminary Investigation of Health and Stress in a Human Skeletal Population of Liangzhu Culture from Jiangzhuang Site, Xinghua, Jiangsu (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Xiaoting Zhu. Hong Zhu. Hua Zhang. Dongya Yang. Minghui Wang.

    This present study investigates human skeletal remains (N=108) of Jiangzhuang site from Xinghua, Jiangsu, China. Jiangzhuang, dated to the Liangzhu Culture (ca. 3400–2250 B.C.), provides a unique opportunity to explore the stress and lifeways of ancient people from the Neolithic rice agricultural community in East China, since the preservation of human remains is very rare due to the acidic soils of the region. Multiple skeletal indicators of stress were examined including oral pathologies,...

  • Preliminary investigations of Human Remains from the Neolithic Gouwan Site in Henan China: Examples of trauma and stress (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Yiru Wang. Hong Zhu.

    Traumatic injuries and other osseous evidence of stress are important factors that reflect the health status of past populations. Human skeletal remains excavated from the Gouwan (99 human skeletal remains in total), a Yangshao culture site (ca. 5000-3000 B.C.) in Xichuan, Henan Province were examined macroscopically for the evidence of skeletal trauma and stress using a biocultural approach. Trauma was investigated to reveal possible types, causes and rigor of activities in this sedentary...

  • A study of kneeling facet observed on Bronze Age human skeletons excavated in North China (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Yongsheng Zhao. Wen Zeng. Shangwu Jiang.

    The kneeling facet is formed on the metatarsal heads because of perpetual kneeling over a long period of time. It was observed in several sites in China. We analyzed the metatarsus of individuals of the Bronze Age from four sites in Shandong Province, China: (1) Daxinzhuang, (2) Liujiazhuang, (3) Chengziya and (4) Houzhangda. We found that the kneeling facet is ubiquitous in bronze age individuals. No significant difference of the frequency is observed either between the sexes or among the...

  • Timing of Stress Episodes at Houtaomuga: Neolithic and Bronze Age Comparisons (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Deborah C. Merrett. Hua Zhang. Lixin Wang. Hong Zhu. Dongya Y. Yang.

    The unworn and minimally worn anterior teeth of 48 individuals from Neolithic and Bronze Age levels of the Houtaomuga site in Jinlin Province, China were examined macro- and microscopically for location on the labial surface of lines of Enamel Hypoplasia relative to the cementoenamel junction. From estimated ages of enamel formation across the tooth crown surface, ages of occurrence of stress exposure were calculated. Variation in timing of growth cessation and recovery from birth to 6 years, as...