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Youth mobility, migration and health before and after the Black Death

Lewis, M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6224-0278 and Montgomery, J. (2022) Youth mobility, migration and health before and after the Black Death. Bioarchaeology International. ISSN 2472-8349 (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

Migration is driven by the young but despite this, few isotope studies focus on adolescent migrants or the intricate nature of their movement. Using a multi-analytical approach we explore this mobility, and the impact of urban living on the diet and health of adolescents from the pre- and post-Black Death periods of Northern England. Isotope analysis (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and strontium) and lead concentrations were measured in 63 adolescents (10-25 years) from three sites in medieval York, and from the nearby small town of Barton-on-Humber. York was an important centre in medieval England, acting as a magnet for adolescents seeking a new life and independence, Barton was seen as less attractive and harder to reach. In the pre-Black Death sample, 33% of adolescents (n=8/24) were identified as possible migrants by their oxygen and strontium values (5 males and 2 females). Following the Black Death only 5% (n=2/39) of adolescents, both from Barton, appeared to be migrants from elsewhere in Britain, indicating the pattern changed from individuals traveling long distances, to more local isotopically ‘invisible’ movement. The non-locals appear to have been well integrated, sharing the same diet to the locals, but there was some evidence for different burial practices. Working in medieval York posed significant health risks for all of the young inhabitants, with lead concentrations at pathological levels, and possibly linked to anaemia and vitamin D deficiency. This research highlights the importance of combining historical, archaeological, palaeopathological and chemical data to understand complex life histories of adolescents in the past.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Social Archaeology
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:106530
Publisher:University of Florida Press

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