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Bioarchaeology of East AsiaMovement, Contact, Health$
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Kate Pechenkina and Marc Oxenham

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044279

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044279.001.0001

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Trajectories of Health in Early Farming Communities of East Asia

Trajectories of Health in Early Farming Communities of East Asia

(p.444) 18 Trajectories of Health in Early Farming Communities of East Asia
Bioarchaeology of East Asia

Kate Pechenkina

Ma Xiaolin

Fan Wenquan

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines the general trends in health that accompanied increasing reliance on agriculture and a later increase in social complexity experienced by human communities of the Yellow and Wei River Valleys of north-central China, comparing them to those documented for other parts of East Asia in earlier studies. While trajectories of human health differed considerably in specific environmental settings, we identify a few commonalities. Sexual dimorphism in stature tended to increase following the development of social complexity. Local reliance on different staple cereals, in conjunction with varied cooking and food processing techniques, apparently resulted in differing distributions of carious lesions on dental crowns. Cooked millet is apparently quite cariogenic, but its adverse effects on dental health can be ameliorated, provided that other components of the diet are fairly abrasive. An expected increase in non-specific stress markers with the transition to agriculture in East Asia seems clearly evident only in the case of the Chinese Central Plains.

Keywords:   Central Plains, oral health, stature, sexual dimorphism, porotic hyperostosis

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