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Department of Archaeology

Current Research Postgraduates

Ms Marieke Gernay

(email at m.j.c.gernay@durham.ac.uk)

Research Topic

Health and diet in Late-Medieval Urban North-West Europe.

Abstract

The late medieval period in North-West Europe is characterised by the rise of towns resulting from a rapidly growing population and a continuous migration from the countryside. However, the infrastructure of these towns would not have been able to cope with the increased population size; thus leading to unsanitary, overcrowded living conditions. Such conditions have been proved to have a negative impact on health. Research on various indicators has also shown a difference between people from urban and rural living environments. My research aims to investigate if health was similarly affected in medieval towns in Belgium (Ghent), France (Caen) and England (TBD).

Health will be determined through macroscopic analysis of human skeletal remains. This project will focus on non-specific stress-indicators (cribra orbitalia, dental enamel hypoplasia, non-specific periosteal reaction, and stature) and respiratory health (rib lesions and maxillary sinusitis). Sex and age will be estimated where possible and used as part of the sampling strategy.

Dietary stable isotope analysis of the medieval period in Europe has been limited and patchy. Funding permitting, stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen will be undertaken to underpin the skeletal evidence and to expand the stable isotope data available for this time period.

Is supervised by

Research Groups

  • Bioarchaeology Research Group