Macroscopic features of scurvy in human skeletal remains: A literature synthesis and diagnostic guide

Snoddy, Ann Marie; Buckley, Hallie; Elliott, Gail; Standen, Vivien; Arriaza, Bernardo; Halcrow, Siân

Keywords: atacama desert, bioarchaeology, differential diagnosis, human anatomy, Metabolic Bone Disease: Paleopathology


The past two decades have seen a proliferation in bioarchaeological literature on the identifica-tion of scurvy, a disease caused by chronic vitamin C deficiency, in ancient human remains. This condition is one of the few nutritional deficiencies that can result in diagnostic osseous lesions. Scurvy is associated with low dietary diversity and its identification in human skeletal remains can provide important contextual information on subsistence strategy, resource allocation, and human-environmental interactions in past populations. A large and robust methodological body of work on the paleopathology of scurvy exists. However, the diagnostic criteria for this disease employed by bioarchaeologists have not always been uniform. Here we draw from previous research on the skeletal manifestations of scurvy in adult and juvenile human skeletal remains and propose a weighted diagnostic system for its identification that takes into account the path-ophysiology of the disease, soft tissue anatomy, and clinical research. Using a sample of individ-uals from the prehistoric Atacama Desert in Northern Chile, we also provide a practical example of how diagnostic value might be assigned to skeletal lesions of the disease that have not been previously described in the literature.

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Título de la Revista: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volumen: 167
Editorial: Wiley
Fecha de publicación: 2018
Página de inicio: 876
Página final: 895
Idioma: Inglés
Financiamiento/Sponsor: Marsden Grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand (UOO1413), CONICYT Anillo (SOC1405), Fondecyt (1171708), University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship


Notas: WOS, ISI