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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Charlotte Roberts

Roberts, C.A. (2007). A bioarchaeological study of maxillary sinusitis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133(2): 792-807.

Author(s) from Durham


Maxillary sinusitis was studied as an indicator of poor air quality. Seven skeletal samples were examined from North America, England, and Nubia, and selected to represent different geographic locations, environments, and subsistence economies. Frequency rates varied from 17.2 to 51.5% of individuals affected with one or both sinuses preserved. Hardin Village had the highest frequency (51.5%), followed by the Aleuts (42.9%), Illinois (38.6%), Indian Knoll (38.5%), Kulubnarti (21.8%), Christchurch, Spitalfields (18.0%), and South Dakota (17.2%). Male frequencies ranged from 16.7 to 36.7%, but the female frequency ranged more widely from 18.0 to 76.5%. At most sites female rates exceeded male. The effect of urban and rural environment on sinusitis occurrence, and also subsistence economy, biological sex, and social status were explored, and comparative sites also considered; urban agricultural sites had a mean frequency of 48.5%, rural agricultural sites had a mean frequency of 45.0%, and hunter-gatherer sites had a mean frequency of 40.0%. In the urban sites male and female frequencies were near equal, but in the rural agricultural and hunter-gatherer sites female frequencies exceeded male frequencies. Dental disease was not found to have much impact on sinusitis frequency. The importance of the link between poor air quality and respiratory health is highlighted in clinical studies in both developed and developing countries, but also in bioarcheological studies.