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Bioarchaeology of identity formation in Late Antique and Migration Period Bavaria, Germany

Neidich, Deborah L. (2023) Bioarchaeology of identity formation in Late Antique and Migration Period Bavaria, Germany. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation investigated potential salient biosocial identity markers in Bajuwaren communities in the Early Medieval Period using the necropolis of Altenerding (400-700 CE) at Erding, Germany as a case study. The skeletal sample (n=218) derived from four socio-temporal cohorts, three of which were defined by diagnostic grave goods: Late Antique (LA), Older Merovingian (OM), and Younger Merovingian (YM), and one of which was unprovisioned. Data were obtained from the combination of new analyses with previously published data to expand what we know about the complexity of individual and community identities and how aspects of a person’s identity impacted their health.
Paleodemographic data (age, sex, and locality [bone apatite 87Sr/86Sr]) were assessed for each cohort Assessed skeletal (cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, and periosteal new bone growth) and oral (linear enamel hypoplasia, caries, abscess, and periodontitis) stress indicators were recorded along with trauma as proxies for differential health risks. Dietary stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N) of bone apatite, and archival archaeological research were used to identify salient markers of individual and group identities in Bavaria.
Results show that individual identities were contingent on multiple integrated biological, social, and economic factors. One new migrant, a young female from the YM (87Sr/86Sr = 0.70798) was identified in the sample. Age-associated patterns of skeletal stress were most commonly observed. Differential trauma risks indicate that males (n=35) were prone to injuries. The Unprovisioned cohort (n=35) was at higher risk of trauma than provisioned cohorts. Dietary analysis indicated that Bajuwaren diets were dependent on animal proteins and C3 foods like wheat [δ13C=–20.3 to –16.8‰, δ15N =+7.9 to +11.4‰]. Patterns of δ15N show that males ate more animal product than females and δ15N increased in the YM. Grave inclusions revealed different patterns between the sexes and changed over time.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Neidich, Deborah L.dln19@pitt.edudln190000-0003-4598-0535
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJudd,
Committee MemberBermann,
Committee MemberEbert,
Committee MemberHanks,
Committee MemberStewart,
Date: 20 February 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 19 November 2021
Approval Date: 20 February 2023
Submission Date: 3 December 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 292
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bioarchaeology, Early Medieval, Late Antique, Identity, Health, Merovingian, Paleopathology, Stable isotope
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2023 15:42
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2023 15:42


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