tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Kneeling difficulty and osteoarthritis: what data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative can tell us about prehistoric Californians

Author(s): Elizabeth Weiss

Year: 2015

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


An essential part of California hunter-gatherer diet was ground foods, such as acorns. Grinding food with the use of mortars and pestles likely required extensive kneeling. Most of the food grinding among prehistoric Californians was likely accomplished by females. In Ryan’s Mound (CA-Ala-329; N = 284), for instance, 33% of females were buried with mortars or pestles whereas 14% of males were buried with mortars or pestles (Chi-square = 10.48, P < 0.001). A rich literature on kneeling effects on skeletal remains in past populations exists, but research concerning kneeling difficulties has been absent. This study examines kneeling difficulty in relation to body mass index (BMI), age, and osteoarthritic osteophytes using the OAI public use database (N = 3588). Knee osteoarthritis was based on osteophyte length on a four point scale for femora and tibiae. BMI was based on a height and weight ratio. Age and kneeling difficulty were self-reported. In females with osteoarthritis, kneeling difficulty increased in females with higher BMIs (F-ratios = 10.389, right; 7.962, left; Ps < 0.01). These results imply that females in CA-Ala-329 were unlikely to have experienced difficulty kneeling and, thus, could engage without difficulty in food processing even with knee osteoarthritis.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

Kneeling difficulty and osteoarthritis: what data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative can tell us about prehistoric Californians. Elizabeth Weiss. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397328)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America