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Title:Postcontact Native American health and adaptation: Assessing the impact of introduced diseases in sixteenth century Gulf Coast Florida
Author(s):Hutchinson, Dale L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lewis, R. Barry
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Archaeology
Anthropology, Physical
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on the introduction of new infectious diseases into the New World as European exploration and colonization escalated during the sixteenth-century. The evidence from human skeletal remains and mortuary sites is presented as particularly suitable for enhancing ethnohistoric descriptions of the events that transpired during that time.
Currently, two main hypotheses regarding the impact of introduced diseases are prevalent: (1) that disease introduction was immediate and resulted in widespread epidemics throughout the New World (e.g., Dobyns 1983), and (2) that such widespread epidemics were much later in time (e.g., Snow and Lanphear 1988). Although several researchers have examined ethnohistoric and archaeological data with regard to these hypotheses, a method and theory for examining the archaeological and biological manifestations of changing disease prevalence is only in the initial stages of development.
In order to assess changes in health for indigenous populations following contact, six skeletal populations are examined from the central Gulf Coast region of Florida that date to the Safety Harbor period, a protohistoric period that spans A.D. 900 to 1725 (Mitchem 1989). Included in this geographical locality are the reconstructed routes of two documented early Spanish entradas, those of Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in 1539.
Skeletal remains are examined for pathological changes and differential diagnosis is made for particular diseases when possible. Ethnohistoric accounts are used to generate hypotheses regarding the effects of European and Indian interaction. Burials at one mortuary site, Tatham Mound, are examined for patterns of spatial location, sex, age, or artifact association. The assumption is that changes in mortuary behavior indicate changes in the circumstances of death.
Analysis of the skeletal remains for pathology indicates that a treponemal infection was present in all six Florida populations, as well as other pathologies that include periostitis, osteomyelitis, porotic hyperostosis, and trauma. The ethnohistoric accounts indicate that the Spanish and Indian interactions were less than cordial, and often placed a burden on the Indians as they were forced to supply labor and food for the Spanish. The accounts are supported by analysis of the skeletal remains and mortuary patterning. In particular, skeletal elements cut by metal weapons are present, and females appear to have been afforded differential burial treatment in some cases. This is presented as evidence of direct contact with the Spanish entradas, and as a possible indication of changing rates of mortality attributed to changing infectious disease prevalence.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Hutchinson, Dale L.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136621
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136621

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