Collections > UNC Chapel Hill Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection > Nutrition and Health in the Piedmont of North Carolina and Virginia: A Bioarchaeological Study

This study focuses on changes in nutrition and health in three past populations that inhabited the Piedmont of North Carolina and Virginia. The people who lived at the three localities - Town Creek, Stockton, and Fredricks - date to the late prehistoric and early colonial time periods. In order to reconstruct the health of these populations, I examined forty-nine individuals to estimate age and sex, and for lesions that serve as evidence of disease or nutritional deficiency. The indicators of health fall into one of three categories: oral health, dietary deficiencies, and general indicators of disease or stress. I specifically looked for changes to oral environment including alveolar infections, tooth loss, and cavities. In order to assess dietary deficiencies, I observed indicators of scurvy, rickets and anemia which are often manifested in lesions on specific bones. Finally, other indicators of health such as osteomyelitis and periosteal reactions were noted as general indicators of health insult. I hypothesize that populations inhabiting the North Carolina and Virginia Piedmont became healthier after colonization due to shifts away from an agricultural diet that were brought about by increasing mobility and economic changes associated with colonial encounters.