Entheseal Morphology: What can muscle attachment sites tell us about the physical activities performed by the individuals buried at the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery?
Odien, Jennifer Kathryn
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The 2012 partial excavation of the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery (ECPC) in Buffalo, NY, created a unique opportunity to combine a skeletal analysis with historical/archival documentation to provide insight into the lives of 19 th and early 20 th century populations, particularly Buffalo's lower working class. This dissertation explores two issues using entheseal data collected from the ECPC skeletal sample. The primary objective investigates whether or not the upper limb entheseal data could be utilized as a skeletal indicator of physical activity patterns. If so, does the entheseal data demonstrate physically strenuous occupations for those buried there. The secondary objective explores choosing an appropriate entheseal scoring method. Two current methods, Villotte and Coimbra, were compared specifically as both observe the same type of entheseal alterations (bone formation, erosion, fine porosity, macro-porosity, and cavities/cystic formations) but formulate their final scores differently. The ECPC sample used for entheseal analysis includes 84 skeletons. Differences in entheseal scores between males/females, young adults (16-34)/older adults (+35 years), and right/left sides were analyzed using non-parametric statistics (Mann-Whitney U, Wilcoxon-signed Rank, Spearman Rho and Partial Spearman Rho tests) for entheseal patterns. Mann-Whitney U tests comparing entheseal data with osteoarthritis (OA) and Schmorl's depressions were also included. Data collected lacked variation in feature type within the sample; similar statistical results for sex, age, and side differences between the Coimbra 'Bone Formation' feature and the Villotte scores supports the conclusion that the Villotte method was the better choice for this sample. The remaining statistical analysis solely utilized the Villotte method. Restraining factors associated with archaeological, historical and entheseal analysis limits the interpretative power utilizing entheseal changes. Despite these limitations, the statistical analysis supports the use of entheseal data as a skeletal indicator of physical activity patterns for the ECPC sample. The historical/archival documentation corroborates the interpretation that individuals buried in the ECPC were performing physically strenuous occupation.