What this skeleton told us: Evidence
A young adult, likely female, of around 20 to 30 years of age and 156 cm tall (5 feet 1 inch). There is tooth decay and plaque on some of the teeth. Notches in her incisor teeth, and small areas of damaged enamel on the inside of the upper front teeth, suggest that the teeth have been used as a tool. There is a possible injury to the left 4th rib, and it may be a greenstick fracture. There is new (woven/immature/unhealed) bone on a number of the rib surfaces indicating that whatever caused the new bone was active at the time of death. There is a sharp-edged lesion about 15mm long that is possibly the result of injury to the soft tissues.
Interpretation of the evidence
In Anglo-Saxon Britain, if a woman survived childhood, she could be expected to live into middle-age, provided she maintained good health and did not die during pregnancy or childbirth. However, we should remember that humans are very good at adapting to challenging times! This woman was of below-average height for the period, which could be genetically related or due to poor childhood nutrition and/or health, she died at a relatively young age. Obstetric death was likely common in Anglo-Saxon Britain, with women often dying during childbirth, or shortly afterwards from childbed fever (postpartum infection). In common with many of the people buried at the Bowl Hole, dental hygiene appears to have been poor for this woman. Tooth decay indicates sugar in her diet. The notches in her front upper incisors indicate the repeated holding of something between her teeth perhaps related to an activity like making baskets. A greenstick fracture is a fracture in the soft bones of an infant or child. The bone bends and cracks instead of breaking completely into two separate pieces. It is so-called because it can look like a fresh branch or twig of a tree that has broken on only one side. This type of fracture typically occurs in children whose bones are soft and developing.
Pleasant, charming from wyn; joy.