Musculoskeletal stress markers and activity patterns in the prehistoric Texas Coast

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Watts, Beth Loree, 1982-

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Understanding the activities of people in the past is the primary goal for most archaeologists and physical anthropologists examining a skeletal population. While a variety of methods can be used, the identification and examination of musculoskeletal stress markers provides a minimally invasive way to study activity patterns. In this study, the upper limbs of two populations from the Texas coast were examined for musculoskeletal markers. These populations were then compared by site and gender to determine if there were any differences in activity patterns between or within these groups. Results showed no significant difference between the sites but did show a significant difference between males and females from both sites in the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles. This indicates some degree of sexual division of labor in both sites. The shape and robusticity of the elements of the upper limb were also examined and results indicate that, with the exception of the radial robusticity scores for males from the Mitchell Ridge site, all of the groups followed similar patterns of shape and robusticity. This similar pattern is in the greater humeral robusticity shown in males compared to females for both sites. All of these conclusions illustrate that both populations displayed similar patterns of activity and use of their upper limbs. This was the first study to examine musculoskeletal markers of prehistoric skeletal remains from the Texas region.