Reduction in frailty in South-Eastern Germany due to the 14th-century mortality crises

Sophia Francis ’21, an anthropology and Russian double major and Museum studies minor, worked with professor Leslie Williams this summer as part of the Pakula Biomedical Fellowship examining skeletal dentition as an indicator of stress.

Dental calculus can tell us a lot about past populations, whether it is about an individual’s diet or how frail they might have been. This research is interested in how dental calculus on the dentition of skeletons from south-eastern Germany dated to the 8th-18th centuries may indicate a reduction in frailty in the south-eastern German population following the 14th-century mortality crises (which included the Black Death and the Great Famine). This reduction would support the hypothesis that the 14th-century mortality crises served as a selection event in which subsequent generations had stronger immune systems and were less susceptible to disease. This research is ongoing and contributes data on calculus deposits on the dentition of these individuals for future research purposes.

August 31, 2020

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