M.A. Theses: Joanne A. Curtin, 1985

Human Skeletal Remains from Namu (ElSx 1): A Descriptive Analysis

This thesis examines the archaeological context and morphological characteristics of a sample of 42 human skeletons from Namu (ElSx 1), a prehistoric archaeological site on the Central Coast of British Columbia. The major aims of the analysis are: 1) to compile a comprehensive descriptive profile of the Namu skeletal sample; 2) to compare these burials with other Northwest Coast skeletal samples described in the literature and 3) to provide a body of descriptive data that can be utilized in future research on Northwest Coast populations.

Archaeological information on burial context is first reviewed in an attempt to reconstruct mortuary practices at the site. Standard osteological analyses are then employed to derive data on demographic patterns, metric and non-metric skeletal morphology, dental characteristics, and skeletal pathology. These data are examined for evidence of age and sex-related variation within the Namu sample, and then compared with similar observations on other skeletal samples from the same broad cultural area.

In general, the people of Namu appear to have enjoyed a healthy though rigorous lifestyle. Degenerative joint disease is not pronounced, dental health is good, and evidence of severe systemic disorders is uncommon. Major health hazards confronting this group appear to be interpersonal violence among males and pregnancy and its consequences among females. Sex differences in activities are inferred from dimorphic patterns of skeletal development and arthritic involvement.

Broad similarities in lifestyle and activities are suggested for contemporaneous populations from the South Coast of British Columbia, with one notable exception. Patterning and severity of dental attrition differs greatly between the two samples. With regard to general level of dental health, and the occurrence of an unusual form of dental abrasion cased by labret wear, Namu shows closest affinity to an early prehistoric sample from the Queen Charlotte Islands.