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Paleopathology of the Ychsma: Evidence of respiratory disease during the Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000-1476) at the Central Coastal site of Pachacamac, Peru

journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2021, 15:25 by Anna M Davies-Barrett, Lawrence S Owens, Peter A Eeckhout
Objective
To investigate evidence for maxillary sinusitis and pulmonary inflammation in archaeological skeletons dating to the Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000-1476) at the site of Pachacamac, Peru.

Materials
Thirty-nine individuals (male, female, and unknown sex; 16+ years age-at-death) were analyzed for inflammatory periosteal reaction (IPR) on the visceral (inner) surfaces of the ribs, and 16 individuals were analyzed for evidence of maxillary sinusitis.

Methods
All individuals were macroscopically examined for bony changes in the maxillary sinuses and new bone formation on the ribs according to pre-established criteria.

Results
Some 33.3% (13/39) of individuals had IPR on the ribs and 93.8% (15/16) had bony changes in the maxillary sinuses.

Conclusions
Respiratory disease was likely prevalent in people buried at Pachacamac during the Late Intermediate Period. A number of factors may have increased the risk of developing respiratory disease, including exposure to poor air quality and increased crowding and social mixing, resulting from pilgrimage to this important ritual center.

Significance
This paper represents one of the first systematic analyses of evidence for respiratory disease in Peruvian and South American human skeletal remains, demonstrating the suitability of the region for further study.

Limitations
A limited sample was available for analysis. Additionally, the site’s skeletal preservation was excellent, meaning the sample available for assessment of maxillary sinusitis was smaller, being limited to individuals with post-mortem breakage.

Further Research
The results of this study should stimulate further much needed systematic investigation of evidence for respiratory disease in other Peruvian and South American populations.

History

Citation

International Journal of Paleopathology, Volume 34, September 2021, Pages 63-75

Author affiliation

School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

International Journal of Paleopathology

Volume

34

Pagination

63 - 75

Publisher

Elsevier BV

issn

1879-9817

Acceptance date

02/06/2021

Copyright date

2021

Available date

18/06/2022

Language

en