A Paleodemographic Study of Mortality in 1st Century BC/AD Petra, Jordan

Author(s): Akacia Propst; Megan Perry

Year: 2017


The population of Petra, Jordan, from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD appears to have rarely suffered from infectious diseases as suggested by the paleopathology profile of those buried on the site’s North Ridge. However, many infectious diseases in the past killed their hosts before skeletal lesions could form so to be documented. Cemetery-level age-at-death profiles provide an important supplementary record of disease-related mortality risks faced by archaeological populations by distinguishing between catastrophic events, such as disease epidemics, versus normal attrition. Here, age-at-death estimates of 71 individuals in the sample were generated using cementochronology, which not only provides more accurate age estimates, but increases our sample size due to the fragmented and commingled nature of the Petra assemblage. A hazard model served to calculate risk of death by age in this sample to help identify forces resulting in the cemetery’s creation. Petra’s adult mortality profile based on the hazard model and the paleopathology data indicate that the cemetery was created through attritional processes rather than a catastrophic event.

Cite this Record

A Paleodemographic Study of Mortality in 1st Century BC/AD Petra, Jordan. Akacia Propst, Megan Perry. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430037)

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17459