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  • Titill er á ensku Osteoarthritis in Iceland. An archaeological study
  • Doktors
  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    Osteoarthritis has been intensively studied within the field of palaeopathology. For decades there was assumed to be a direct link between activity and the development of osteoarthritis, and this was reflected in the work which was carried out, with often very specific interpretations of occupation and activity on the basis of the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. By the 1990s it began to be more accepted within the field that the aetiology of osteoarthritis is far too multifactorial to allow for such simplistic conclusions to be drawn. This has resulted in a great reduction in the interest in the study of osteoarthritis within palaeopathology in the past few decades, as the condition appears to have somewhat lost its place within the archaeological discussion. Within the medical community, the focus has shifted in the past three decades to the genetic aetiopathogenesis of osteoarthritis. There has been a great deal of work in this field in Iceland, where the genetic link to hip, hand, and to a lesser extent knee osteoarthritis has been demonstrated, with the identification of several osteoarthritis families within the population.
    The main aim of this thesis is to reclaim the study of osteoarthritis within palaeo¬pathology using the analysis of the condition within five Icelandic skeletal populations, kuml, Skeljastaðir, Hofstaðir, Haffjarðarey and Reykjavík, which span the occupation of Iceland, from the earliest settlement in the late 9th century to the 19th century. The approach to this is twofold. First of all, to avoid focusing on just one aetiological aspect of osteoarthritis, but rather to embrace its multifactorial nature, and consider multiple aetiological agents of the condition. These are in particular genetics, activity, anatomy, age and sex. The aim is then to place the results of the analysis within the social and physical environments of the populations under study, and so attempt to find osteoarthritis a place within the osteoarchaeological discussion again. Secondly, the aim is to consider a more theoretical approach to the study of palaeopathology in general, and osteoarthritis in particular. To this end the question is raised whether it is possible to consider disease in archaeology from factors external to the aetiology of the disease, but rather from the lived experience of those who suffer from it. Considering the degenerative effects of osteoarthritis, the focus is placed on how it is possible to discuss issues such as disability, ageing and quality of life within palaeopathological research.
    The conclusions drawn from this thesis demonstrates that by avoiding focusing on one feature of osteoarthritis but rather take into account its complex nature, it is possible to offer a varied discussion on osteoarthritis in archaeological material. The identification of a genetic osteoarthritis opens up a discussion on the family in archaeology and the use of the medieval cemetery in Iceland; the variation between sites in terms of activity related osteoarthritis demonstrates changes both geographically and through time in the intensity of the activities being carried out, while thinking about age in terms of osteoarthritis opens up new avenues for exploring age and ageing within archaeological populations.

  • Háskólasjóður Eimskipafélags Íslands
    Fornleifastofnun Íslands
    Þjóðminjasafn Íslands
    Minjasafn Reykjavíkur
  • 5.2.2015

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