Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2022

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Saige Kelmelis

Second Advisor

Dr. Tony Krus

Third Advisor

Dr. Julie Hoggarth


Maya, Bioarchaeology, Nonadults, Survivorship, Weaning age


Nonadults are particularly sensitive and reactive to stress, illness, and injury and, as such, they are good proxies for examining health of past populations based on evidence of stress events recorded in their skeletal and dental remains. Skeletal data on childhood stress and frailty was derived from nineteen individuals sourced from the BVAR skeletal collection, which was excavated from Maya settlements in the Belize River Valley and dated from the Early and Late Classic (250-900 CE) periods of the ancient Maya kingdoms. Osteological analyses included age-at-death estimation for adults and nonadults, following the criteria of Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994) and Scheuer and Black (2008). Dental enamel defects in the form of linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) were scored and estimated for the age of incidence following the methods outlined by Reid and Dean (2006), while analyses of pathological defects on teeth indicating oral health and diet were observed and recorded following criteria outlined by Ortner (2003). Fisher’s exact tests were run to determine the relationships between social status and dental defect development and migratory status and the development of dental defects. Kaplan Meier survival analyses were conducted to examine survivorship trends of those individuals with and without visible indicators of stress. The results indicate the ability to inform on childhood health and frailty in the absence of reliable documentary sources, as well as point to the importance of understanding the long-term effects of childhood stress events on adult mortality and morbidity in the past.



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