Global History of Health Project (European Module)
A research project of the Department of Archaeology.
I am involved with this large and ambitious project as UK coordinator which is creating three large databases of skeletal data, which will allow researchers to reinterpret the history of human health in Europe from the late Paleolithic era to the early twentieth century (http://global.sbs.ohio-state.edu/). During this period, human health and welfare were transformed enormously by the transition from foraging to farming, the rise of cities and complex forms of social and political organization, European colonization; and industrialization. With a trans-Atlantic network of collaborators, data from over 13,000 individual skeletons have been inputted to a database which will ultimately lead to large-scale comparative studies of the causes and health consequences of these and other dramatic changes in arrangements for work, living, and human interaction.
The study of very large datasets to explore trends in changing patterns of health in the past has been rare until the recent formation of the Global History of Health Project (GHHP), based at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and funded by the National Science Foundation. This effort developed from the Western Hemisphere Health Project (WHHP - Steckel and Rose, 2002 The backbone of history. Cambridge University Press) which assessed health in 12,500 skeletons from the Americas for individuals who lived from 5,000 BP to the late nineteenth century. The analysis compared health within and across regions that were subdivided into 65 localities. The GHHP was established in 2001 and is now focused on Europe. The difference between the WHHP and the GHHP lies in the scope of data collection, and an expanded list of variables coded into an on-line database. There are 23 countries participating in the project. Over 30 senior investigators and an additional 40 graduate students have been responsible for the data collection and input from more than 13,000 skeletons, to date.
The first datasets were presented at the Anthropological Society of Paris' 150 year Anniversary International Congress and at a poster symposium at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Physical Anthropologists in Chicago in 2009 (American Journal of Physical Anthropology Supplement 48 (2009). Papers are now being prepared for publication in a special issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.