Porotic Hyperostosis and Linear Enamel Hypoplasia as Indicators of Health for the Ancient Maya of K'axob, Belize
Vance, Shannon M.
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Human remains recovered during archaeological investigation often are used to inform on the health and living conditions of past populations. Excavations at the ancient Maya community of K'axob, Belize, have yielded a skeletal population of 154 individuals dating from the Middle Preclassic to the Late Classic periods. By examining these remains for evidence of porotic hyperostosis and enamel hypoplasia, this study aims to analyze the health of the people of K’axob over time in relation to other sites in the Maya area. Porotic hyperostosis was found in 24 (54.5%) of 44 evaluable individuals, and linear enamel hypoplasia in 71 (78.9%) of 90 evaluable individuals. These rates are higher than what would be expected in a location with such abundant dietary resources, suggesting that the rates of these pathologies are influenced not by diet, but by other environmental factors, such as a high parasitic load.