Secular Trends in Living Conditions in Medieval/post-medieval Luxembourg City


CALL: 2018

DOMAIN: ID - Humanities and Social Sciences


LAST NAME: Kremmer



HOST INSTITUTION: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

KEYWORDS: Palaeoanthropology, Human Osteology, Isotope analysis, Bioarchaeology

START: 2018-10-01

END: 2021-06-30


Submitted Abstract

One of the major research themes in Biological Anthropology is the reconstruction of living conditions in past populations from human skeletal remains. Indeed, environmental stressors such as malnutrition, trauma, working conditions etc. can leave traces on the human skeleton, providing information on living conditions for each individual examined. By comparing the impact of these environmental stressors on a population to the impact they have on other populations from different time periods, the development of overall living conditions over time can be identified. Most of the time, these comparisons are made using individuals from different cemeteries or even different geographical regions, which increases the risk of interpopulation variation. The effects of interpopulation variation might obfuscate some of the differences or similarities between the populations and might thus lead to erroneous conclusions. Therefore, it would be ideal to conduct such studies on cemeteries which remained continuously in use; however, these remain rather rare due to the usually bad preservation of urban burial grounds. This project aims to investigate, with palaeoanthropological approaches, secular changes in living standards through the analysis of ~400 stratified graves from the medieval/post-medieval Fransiscan cemetery on place Guillaume II in Luxembourg City. The analysis will focus primarely on the effects of environmental stressors on teeth as those are directly involved with dietary intake, but will also consider bone growth and development. Dietary composition and geographical origin of each individual will be determined by Isotope analyses. The results of this study will reveal how living standards evolved over time in a fortified medieval city and would allow to interpret anthropological findings in the light of recorded historical events, providing insight into how much these events shaped the life of the citizens. Furthermore, differences between rural and urban life will be explored through a comparison with the cemetery of Grevenmacher.

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