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Puberty and adolescent health in post-medieval England (1550-1850)

Valme, S.-R. (2019) Puberty and adolescent health in post-medieval England (1550-1850). PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00089368


Adolescents are a dynamic and underrepresented part of the archaeological record. Through the use of osteological, historical, and archaeological sources this project aims to assess the health of post-medieval adolescents, aged 10 to 25 years. While there has been recent research into puberty in medieval and roman England, the post-medieval period has been largely untouched. This study sets out to fill in this gap in research by providing the first large scale analysis of post-medieval adolescent health and puberty and to address the changes in urbanization and industrialization, and the effects that they would have on a child growing into adulthood. A primary sample of 460 skeletons was examined for age, sex, pubertal stage, stress, and pathology. While a secondary reference database was established with 424 adolescent aged individuals from published and unpublished sources. An examination of the 6 pubertal stages indicated that there was an average overall delay in pubertal growth in both boys and girls of 2 years to modern studies. Additionally, the average age of menarche for post-medieval females (16.2 years) to Modern (12.6 years), Medieval (15 years), and Roman (14.1 years) time periods were recorded. In support of historical sources, London was found with the highest rates of rickets reflecting the worsening air pollution. Naval sailors were found with the highest rates of tuberculosis and maxillary sinusitis suggesting that ship based life was more dangerous than commonly expected. The results indicated that the semi-urban cohort had the least exposure to pathology and ultimately are an unexplored demographic in the population that is beginning to arise in the period. Overall adolescents in the post-medieval period had more pathology than the medieval period and the stresses indicated that while DEH was present that these adolescents were likely well enough to survive childhood before encountering further environmental difficulties. This research provides the most comprehensive study of adolescent morbidity and mortality in post-medieval England to date and it has provided new insights into post-medieval puberty and health while presenting suggestions for further work.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Lewis, M. and Astill, G.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:89368


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