Daily Lives in Early Medieval Bavaria: Degenerative Joint Disease in the Carolingian Altenerding, Germany

Author(s): Leslie Williams; Kendra Weinrich

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The State of the Art in Medieval European Archaeology: New Discoveries, Future Directions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

This project investigates lived experience in early medieval Germany by examining degenerative joint disease (DJD) in human skeletal remains from Altenerding, Germany. A 2008 excavation at the Petersbergl site unearthed 128 burials from a 9th century cemetery associated with the Carolingian court at Altenerding. Osteological analyses conducted in 2011 and 2018 individuated 116 individuals from single and intermingled graves. Methods from the Global History of Health Project were used to assess DJD at the major joint complexes and in the vertebral column, recording presence and severity of arthritic changes to the joint surfaces. DJD was common across all joint systems, especially the vertebrae, where prevalence surpassed 73% (63/86).

To examine differential DJD prevalence between males and females, biological sex was estimated using features of the cranium and pelvis (males = 30; females = 31). Significantly more males (90%) than females (67.7%) had at least one body joint affected by DJD (Chi-Square, p < 0.05); though not statistically significant, this pattern also held for vertebral DJD. While recognizing the complex relationship between activity patterns and DJD, as well as that between sex and gender, these results suggest differential activity patterns between men and women in Carolingian Bavaria.

Cite this Record

Daily Lives in Early Medieval Bavaria: Degenerative Joint Disease in the Carolingian Altenerding, Germany. Leslie Williams, Kendra Weinrich. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451285)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25997