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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Kori Lea Filipek

Filipek, KL, Roberts, CA, Montgomery, J, Gowland, R & Beaumont, J (2020). Stressed to Death: Stable isotope evidence of pathophysiological stress from young people with leprosy buried at a Medieval English leprosarium. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 171(S69): 1.

Author(s) from Durham


ological stress in children, adolescents, and young adult people with bone changes of leprosy buried at a medieval leprosarium (9th-11th centuries AD), and explore indicators of nutritional stress, lifetime diet, and potential links to leprosy immunity. Incremental dentine has the potential to show the diet and pathophysiological processes of at the time of their death if the tooth is still forming. This study employs a novel isotopic approach to examine individual life histories of people displaying skeletal signs of lepromatous leprosy in Medieval Winchester. Whole-life dietary profiles (carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes) spanning birth to death from 10 young individuals (<25 years old) were obtained using collagen from high-resolution dentine sections of canines, and second or third molars. The data from the analysis of dietary carbon and nitrogen, used in conjunction with skeletal and clinical evidence, offers a unique view into the pathophysiological and nutritional stresses that may have compromised leprosy immunity. It also highlights the potential of dietary analyses to reveal early life-histories of pathophysiological stress of people with leprosy, as well as their care and treatment during their lives subsequent to admission into a leprosarium.