Expressions and Severity of Degenerative Joint Diseases: A Comparative Study of Joint Pathology in the Lambayeque Region, North Coast Peru



Yockey, Michelle L

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Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is one of the most common categories of pathological conditions found in archaeological and clinical medical contexts. DJD and is characterized by the progressive erosion of the articular cartilage of the synovial joint systems throughout the human body. Subsequent pathological joint alterations include osteophytosis, porosity, and eburnation. Bioarchaeologists have previously studied DJD linking wear-and-tear of joints to broad patterns and intensities of long-term habitual physical activities to shed light on lifeways, mobility, gender roles, and forms of economy. In the Lambayeque region of northern Peru past research has demonstrated while the biological effects of conquest were variable, DJD has not been studied in particular depth. This thesis analyzed data from 331 individuals from Mórrope and 148 from Eten –two Colonial era skeletal samples from Lambayeque. Here, the prevalence of multiple types of DJD as well as the severity of each pathological manifestation were examined between Mórrope and Eten using odds ratios and Mann-Whitney U tests. Results show that the manifestation and severity of each type are statistically different between the two samples in most comparisons, demonstrating that people in Mórrope sample were experiencing an elevated if not excessive level of physical activity than in Eten. These findings point to local differences in Colonial Peruvian economy as mediated by microenvironments, the possible role of early life nutritional stress on later predisposition to DJD, and the literal embodiment of multiple forms of social inequality among the native Muchik peoples of historic Peru.



Degenerative joint disease, Lambayeque, Eten, Osteoarthritis, Mórrope, Severity