Growing up different in Neolithic China: A contextualised case study and differential diagnosis of a young adult with skeletal dysplasia
International journal of paleopathology | 17 Dec 2019
SE Halcrow, MJ Miller, AME Snoddy, W Fan and K Pechenkina
This paper presents a case study of a young adult from the late Neolithic Yangshao cultural period site (∼3300-2900 years BC) of Guanjia () located in Henan Province on the Central Plains of China, who has evidence for skeletal dysplasia characterised by proportional stunting of the long bones and a small axial skeleton, generalised osteopenia, and non-fusion of epiphyses. We provide a detailed differential diagnosis of skeletal dysplasia with paediatric onset and conclude that this is likely a form of hypopituitarism or hypothyroidism, an extremely rare finding within the archaeological context. This paper highlights the issues of distinguishing the forms of proportional dwarfism in palaeopathology because of the considerable variation in manifestation of these conditions. Finally, we assess whether there were any health and social implications for this person and community through the consideration of a bioarchaeology of care approach across the lifecourse, burial context, and information on social perceptions of ‘difference’ in the community.
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