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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Andrew R Millard

Petersone-Gordina, P., Roberts, C.A., Millard, A.R., Montgomery, J. & Gerhards, G. (2018). Dental disease and dietary isotopes of individuals from St Gertrude Church cemetery, Riga, Latvia. PLOS ONE 13(1): e0191757.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This research explores oral health indicators and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data to explore diet, and differences in diet, between people buried in the four different contexts of the St Gertrude Church cemetery (15th– 17th centuries AD): the general cemetery, two mass graves, and a collective mass burial pit within the general cemetery. The main aim is to assess whether people buried in the mass graves were rural immigrants, or if they were more likely to be the victims of plague (or another epidemic) who lived in Riga and its suburbs. The data produced (from dental disease assessments and isotope analyses) were compared within, as well as between, the contexts. Most differences emerged when comparing the prevalence rates of dental diseases and other oral health indicators in males and females between the contexts, while isotope analysis revealed more individual, rather than context-specific, differences. The data suggested that the populations buried in the mass graves were different from those buried in the general cemetery, and support the theory that rural immigrants were buried in both mass graves. Significant differences were observed in some aspects of the data between the mass graves, however, possibly indicating that the people buried in them do not represent the same community.