Objective: This study evaluates patterns of human growth in the Neolithic to make inferences about environmental correlates of developmental disturbances. Materials: 33 children/adolescents from the Neolithic of Liguria (Italy), 29 of which date between 4,800-4,400 cal BCE. Methods: Neolithic patterns of growth are compared with a modern sample (the Denver Growth Study; DGS). Dental development was used to determine age at death. Proxies for postcranial maturation are femoral length and proportion of mean adult femoral length attained. Results: Ligurian children show growth faltering compared to DGS, especially between 4 and 9 years of age. Between 1 and 2 years, and in later childhood and adolescence, values are more similar or higher than DGS, when using the proportion of adult femoral length attained. Conclusions: The pattern of growth in Ligurian Neolithic children may reflect a deprived and highly-infectious environment: three individuals show skeletal lesions consistent with tuberculosis. The relatively faster growth in infancy may result from the buffering provided by maternal milk. Older children and adolescents may exhibit catch-up growth. Significance: This study contributes to our understanding of Neolithic selective pressures and possible biocultural adaptive strategies. Limitations: The cross-sectional nature of the data and the small sample size make it unclear whether the observed pattern is representative of the growth patterns in the living population. The possibility that adults are stunted undermines the interpretation of optimal growth in the first years. Suggestions for Further Research: Refine age estimates, increase sample size through the study of other bone elements.
|Titolo:||Environmental correlates of growth patterns in Neolithic Liguria (northwestern Italy)|
SPARACELLO, Vitale (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2020|
|Tipologia:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|