Printer Friendly

Pursuit of Famine: Investigating Famine in Bioarchaeological Literature.

Famine affects societies worldwide, despite geography and time. Traditionally, famine has been defined as "mass starvation leading to death" (Moore 1990:1), a definition that emphasizes the biological and demographic repercussions stemming from severe food shortage (Howe and Devereux 2004), including increased mortality rates and the disruption of community livelihoods (Moore 1990; Rivers et al. 1976). However, famine is widely recognized as a social phenomenon (Currey 1992; de Waal 1989; Howe 2010; Rivers et al. 1976; Webb and von Braun 1994). Likewise, while ecological changes (such as drought or infectious agents) or political restrictions can lead to the shortage of food supplies, Sen (1981) emphasizes that famine often results from the loss of entitled acquisition of food, increases in the price of foodstuffs, or a lack of reliable transportation to disseminate food supplies rather than from the direct drop in resources. When famine occurs despite the presence of adequate food, it is referred to as a "food entitlement decline" (FED) (Murton 2000:1419). Variation in the causes and effects of famines have an impact on how different disciplines study and identify famine. The inconsistent application of this term across disciplines suggests an arbitrary political approach rather than one rooted in technical elements (Howe and Devereux 2004) and makes it difficult to coordinate an understanding of past famines.

This article aims to review how the term "famine" has been used in bioarchaeological publications over the past two decades (1996-2016) from three major journals: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, and Journal of Archaeological Science. Our goal is to understand the multitude of ways bioarchaeologists situate the concept of famine in the past as a large-scale event as well as how frequently famine is incorporated into bioarchaeological research questions.

Bioarchaeologists play an important role in understanding events that affected the health of past populations, mainly through identifying pathophysiological signs in human skeletal material that indicate a departure from homeostasis, including nutritional deficiencies. New publications have highlighted the complexities inherent in studying famine as a calamitous event with intersecting biological and social factors (e.g., Geber and Murphy 2012; Yaussy et al. 2016). However, "famine" has often been used in bioarchaeological publications without this same level of detail to contextualize this type of occurrence as a sociopolitical phenomenon or to show how past populations were affected holistically. This disjunction may reflect the problems in investigating famine in the past as well as the difficulties in identifying the specific causative factors for abnormal health and nutritional stress in past groups. A primary objective in the development of bioarchaeological theory therefore should be to reflect on the language chosen in shaping research foci. This clarification will aid in highlighting what kinds of evidence we can pursue through the archaeological record to examine the deleterious consequences of famine conditions; it may also indicate how bioarchaeology as a discipline can provide unique insight into reconstructing historical famines.

If social scientists can come to a consensus on the definition of famine, we can design a research program to understand the operating forces that create, perpetuate, exacerbate, or alleviate periods of famine. A coherent set of guidelines for declaring famine would assist modern and future efforts to pinpoint which regions are most vulnerable to full-scale famines in situations of political upheaval and identify preemptive strategies that might curb economic and social disruptions in communities suffering prolonged. Applying these same kinds of contemporary social, political, and economic factors in investigations of past populations, on the other hand, can better serve to illuminate social conditions in the past through bioarchaeological analysis.

Defining "Famine"

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not directly identify "famine" as one monolithic condition; instead, it addresses the multiple facets that can occur from famine as "complex emergencies" (Wisner and Adams 2002). This terminology recognizes the similarities in the social, health, and political consequences of crises, whether natural or political in origin. The United Nations, on the other hand, has a set of standards under the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) for the official recognition of famine events. These criteria include a minimum of 20% of households facing food shortages, global acute malnutrition rates exceeding 30%, and crude death rates exceeding 2 per 10,000 per day (Salama et al. 2012). The IPC for famine is limited in its applications, as these criteria are established on malnutrition levels in a living population without consideration of sociopolitical factors; they also discount the health statuses of migrating individuals and those who die prior to the study.

Despite the ubiquity of severe conditions that can affect a society's ability to secure food resources, numerous variables dictate whether or not a famine will be officially declared by the United Nations and affected governments. The complexities of these variables can be gleaned from the inconsistent terminology ascribed to famines or famine-like conditions and from the lack of a centralized list of major famines by international health bodies such as the WHO. These standards alone may not be suitable in examining archaeological populations, especially when the mortality patterns of famine-afflicted communities are compounded by infectious diseases and other physiological stresses that act as the primary agents of death during famines.

Part of the difficulty in examining what makes up "famine" is the broad vocabulary that is used within scholastic literature, often interchangeably without providing proper context for what these terms specifically refer to. In academic publications, certain terms are employed in reference to "famine" to denote the nuances present in famine conditions. These terms may not necessarily be mutually exclusive, and they can often overlap during famine events.

* Food deprivation: insufficient availability of food sources to sustain an individual (Murton 2000:1413).

* Food insecurity: inability for a household to have "reliable access to food in sufficient quantity and quality to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle" (Hadley and Crooks 2012:72).

* Food shortage: insufficient food supply to meet the needs of a community (Murton 2000:1413).

* Malnutrition: poor nutritional status resulting from dietary intake either above or below that which is optimal (Smolin and Grosvenor 2003:G10).

* Starvation: (1) reduced access to necessary food sources for an individual (Sen 1981).

Some of these concepts may not manifest in physically recognizable ways in the human skeleton, which is typically the only evidence available to bioarchaeologists on the extent of famine conditions in archaeological populations. This is especially true in cases lacking historical documentation to corroborate any biological evidence of past events. A combined approach allows bioarchaeologists to examine famine as a large-scale event situated in historical contexts, but other aspects of food deprivation are still possible to explore in prehistoric or ahistoric archaeological populations.

Components of Famine

The multi-dimensional aspects that contribute to the creation of famine conditions are divided into five categories in this article, highlighting the complexity in identifying famines even in modern-day crises with direct witnesses and extensive documentation: ecological, political, economic, cultural, and demographic. Figure 1 illustrates the intricate relationships between these non-biological factors in the development of famine conditions. For instance, the hierarchical structures that are dependent on socioeconomic stratification exist in agricultural societies, making it difficult to project these same factors onto hunter-gatherer or other subsistence-based societies. Without evidence that can help demarcate social divisions in the archaeological record, it may not be feasible to determine many of the integral elements of famine impact in certain past communities. As well, the trigger for many famines is an ecological disaster, such as drought, that affects staple food sources (e.g., Somalia [2010-2011], Sudan [1998], Ethiopia [1984], China [1958-1961], North Korea [1994-1998]) and crop harvests (e.g., Great Irish Famine in 1845). However, the occurrence of these ecological changes alone may not determine whether a population undergoes a famine, as access to available food sources can be affected by external demographic or political factors. Famine conditions, therefore, are dependent on the sociopolitical stability of the affected communities.

Primarily, areas that are undergoing political turmoil are more vulnerable to disturbances to food security and food accessibility. This strife can come as a result of ongoing violent conflict or changes to government structures. Domestic and foreign aid can be prevented from reaching affected communities, exacerbating the initial food shortage. This political instability further contributes to economic downturns with a reduced labor force, decreased productivity, and inflated food prices as resources become scarce. Unusually high rates of death and migration are a consequence of famine, as are decreased birth rates (e.g., Stewart Fotheringham et al. 2013). These demographic trends can have long-lasting ramifications, even after famine ends, because of an overall population loss. With these factors in play, cultural coping mechanisms against food insecurity may be disrupted, affecting the ability for communities to maintain social cohesion in light of food loss. The ways in which sociopolitical relationships can affect cultural norms demonstrate the importance in understanding which communities are most vulnerable to losing access to food and resources as well as how these cultural changes can have ripple effects on the physical and mental health of the afflicted populations.

Famine's Impacts on Marginalized Groups

A critical component of properly contextualizing the sociopolitical implications of famine is understanding which specific demographics are most affected by famine conditions. Social factors such as age, gender, and status influence which members of an afflicted community are most likely to suffer as a result of food shortages and deleterious living conditions.

Mortality trends that relate to age, gender, and status can be seen in numerous documented examples of famine. Children, especially infants, are considered to be the most vulnerable members of affected communities (Murton 2000). During the famine of 1984-1986 in Darfur, Sudan, more than half of deaths related to famine conditions occurred in children under the age of four (de Waal 1989), and the highest rates of mortality were found in children in displaced refugee camps during the 1985-1986 famine in Ethiopia (Lindtjorn 1990). Elderly individuals are also more likely to perish during famines (Chen and Chowdhury 1977; de Waal 1989). These patterns follow typical demographic bell curves (Morgan 2013). However, these two age groups have elevated numbers of "excess deaths" compared to mortality rates of pre-famine periods (Murton 2000; Watkins and Menken 1985). The pattern of deaths reflects how famine conditions disproportionately affect the most physiologically and economically vulnerable members of a stricken population.

Women can be disproportionately affected during famines as a result of biological and cultural factors. Because of the energy demands on their bodies, pregnant or lactating women are particularly susceptible to starvation or to diseases that spread more quickly during crisis periods (Murton 2000). The loss of fertile females, coupled with decreased fecundity as a result of disruptions to typical reproductive behaviors and nutritional acquisition (Murton 2000), can have a severe impact on a community's post-famine demographic recovery (Watkins and Menken 1985). However, other researchers have suggested that because physiological differences in fat storage between females and males, males are less protected against deleterious consequences of food insecurity and thus suffer high rates of mortality during famine conditions (Morgan 2013; Yaussy et al. 2016). As a result, gender- and sex-based patterns in frailty during famine periods may be context-specific and should not be considered universally applicable in all famine cases.

Cultural norms can influence the degree to which women, children, and elders are affected by food shortages. In many areas around the world, patriarchal norms prioritize men in holding dominant economic and social positions. This can result in the expectation that women will defer limited food supplies to the males in their families, with sons taking precedence over daughters in receiving food (Murton 2000). For the benefit of male family members, women and female children can be pushed further into destitution through "neglect, starvation, abandonment, and sale into prostitution" (Murton 2000:1419). All of these factors raise the risk of exposure to communicable diseases, which are often the ultimate cause of death rather than starvation itself (Figure 1).

The stress of food insecurity and limited food accessibility can trigger social tensions within a population, often with people in power encouraging malcontent to be directed toward scapegoats in lieu of addressing the actual breakdowns in food acquisition. Usually, these scapegoats are disenfranchised communities within a larger population, such as ethnic or religious minorities. For example, ethnic minorities such as the Reewin and the Bantu were disproportionately affected in Somalia during 2010-2011 (Majid and McDowell 2012) as a result of geopolitical isolation.

Material and Methods

To obtain an overview of how famine has been employed by bioarchaeologists and changes in use of the term through time, publications between 1996 and 2016 from three major journals were investigated: American Journal of Physical Anthropology (AJPA), International Journal of Osteology (IJO), and Journal of Archaeological Science (JAS). These journals were selected because they have a clear peer-review process ensuring that content reflects current best practice and for their broad accessibility to international bioarchaeological researchers. For the purposes of this article, a North American application of the term "bioarchaeology" will be employed; only articles that focused on human skeletal and dental remains were included in this review to provide a uniform framework for bioarchaeological research. IJO is the most recently established of the three journals, founded in 1991. To ensure consistency, we selected articles from all three journals to cover a span of the past 20 years, from 1996 to 2016. This timeframe ensures that our sample will capture the broad range of topics and methodologies employed by the authors over a synchronic period for which all three journals could be sampled (see Table 1).

The AJPA has by far the broadest scope of the three journals we sampled. It encompasses a variety of relevant bioanthropological topics including human evolution, paleodemography, bioarchaeology, and paleopathology. The IJO currently focuses on articles relating to osteological analysis of archaeological material. The JAS publishes articles that pursue technical and methodological developments within archaeology.

From each journal, articles that included the term "famine" within the text were examined for how the term was employed and whether or not the term was itself defined. Articles were omitted if they only used the word "famine" to reference a specific historical event, such as the Great Irish Famine, without any further context of what a famine constitutes. Four general, interrelated frameworks were considered in defining famine, but each covers different aspects of how a famine affects a population. Articles were reviewed to determine how the word "famine" was used, and each usage was scored for every article. Articles could be classified as using the term in more than one way. Numerous articles used the term "famine" in more than one way, so the number of articles in each category may not equal the total number of articles from each journal that defined "famine" (see Table 2).

The first type of classification relates to famine as an environmental disaster in itself or as a consequence of an ecological change. The second category of famine describes starvation for an acute period of time. Starvation might be directly related to an ecological disaster, such as crop failure, or to social imbalances. A third category of famine dealt with physiological consequences of malnutrition or reduced nutritional intake. These studies often examined osteological stress markers in populations that could be directly or indirectly linked to historically known famines. A fourth category referred to food shortages or disruptions to food acquisition that affect communities en masse. Outside of these four categories, other articles used the term "famine" when discussing catastrophic events that affected population demographics, identifying substandard food sources as "famine foods," or treating famine as a source of stress affecting immune responses to diseases and infections. Such articles were classified as "other." These articles fell outside the other four categories, as no context for what "famine" meant in relation to food consumption was provided.

Results and Discussion

The majority of articles that included the word or concept of "famine" were published between 2011 and 2016: 53.6% of those published in AJPA, 77.8% of those in IJO, and 69.2% of those in JAS. Articles that did not contextualize the term "famine" in relation to the research objectives were deemed to not be using the term as a central part of the research undertaken. Although the term "famine" appeared in a total of 58 bioarchaeological articles in the three journals, 64.3% (18/28) of articles in AJPA, 100% (17/17) of those in IJO, and 69.2% (9/13) of those in JAS did not include famine analysis in their research goals. This is related to the frequency in which the term "famine" was used in each reviewed article. In AJPA, 57.1% of selected articles used the term only once, along with 82.4% in IJO and 61.5% in JAS having singular appearances of "famine" in the entire article text.

In AJPA, "famine" was most commonly used to refer to malnutrition or nutritional stress as consequences of famine; 42.9% of the relevant articles used this perspective (Table 3). Three other specific categories also had sizable representation: 17.9% of the articles referred to "famine" as an event of mass starvation, 14.3% situated "famine" as food shortage or insecurity, and 25.0% had "famine" as a type of ecological disaster. Nearly one-third (9/28) of the AJPA articles used "famine" outside of these classifications, with such examples as relating famines to events that could affect immunological responses to infections and diseases, or as catastrophes that affected demographic mortality profiles. Six articles out of 28 (21.4%) had multiple categorizations of "famine," accounting for the large representation of each category, as well as demonstrating how famine is a complex crisis composed of various ecological, social, and biological factors.

Articles in IJO (Table 4) were more likely to use the term "famine" to refer to food shortage/insecurity (29.4%), malnutrition or nutritional stress (35.3%), and other perspectives (29.4%). Three articles approached "famine" as an ecological disaster (17.6%), and one (5.9%) ascribed "famine" to mass starvation. Only two articles had multiple ways of contextualizing "famine."

The focus on famine in JAS articles (Table 5) fell mainly between ecological disaster (23.1%) and other classifications (30.8%). "Famine" was considered to be an episode of malnutrition or nutritional stress in 23.1% of the articles; 15.4% of the articles also referred to "famine" as periods of food shortage or insecurity, and an additional 15.4% contextualized "famine" as mass starvation.

The recent increase in research incorporating the term "famine" may reflect the development of new techniques relevant to bioarchaeological interests, particularly advances in genetic and stable isotope analysis; this trend is also noted by Stojanowski and Buikstra (2005) in their overview of AJPA research topics. Consequently, we see the present literature review as fitting within the current trend by bioarchaeologists to deconstruct the usage of and, more specifically, the definition of terms such as "stress" and "health" (e.g., Klaus 2014; Reitsema and Kyle McIlvaine 2014).

The lack of a consistent definition for "famine" in bioarchaeology has led to a discrepancy in the way the term was employed by various researchers. The primary focus has not been a socioeconomic perspective, although a number of other social sciences have begun to regard this as a principal consideration, one that modern aid and health agencies regularly employ (Hillbruner and Moloney 2012; Lautze et al. 2012; Maxwell and Fitzpatrick 2012; Wisner and Adams 2002). This perspective may be more feasible to undertake in other social sciences, as many researchers in those fields have access to living populations who can provide insight into their personal experiences with famine. Bioarchaeological research does not require new methodologies to produce emergent features in the literature; recent publications (DeWitte 2015; Yaussy et al. 2016) have successfully focused on famine by carefully examining the terminology and applying different theoretical frameworks, without relying on methodologies that may be inaccessible or untested. This innovative approach in adopting new perspectives helps fine-tune how we examine the biocultural impacts of famine in ways that are easily achievable for bioarchaeologists.

Bioarchaeological investigations examine skeletal populations, and not all cases have access to written texts, which bring forth valuable information in reconstructing how past communities have struggled with starvation and food insecurity. It is more difficult to approach large-scale events such as famine without contextualizing documentation. The tendency for bioarchaeologists to rely on the physical markers of starvation or evidence of unusual dietary patterns in the skeleton may lead to incorrect diagnoses of famine or "famine conditions" in past populations, because biocultural stress markers associated with nutritional insufficiency can have a variety of causes, some of which have nothing to do with food sufficiency, such as parasitic infection or diarrheal disease. Consideration of biological features alongside explicit historical evidence has been the most secure way that bioarchaeology is used in reconstructing the circumstances leading to the loss of reliable food sources in historical populations that relied on agriculture. The importance of identifying these lines of evidence cannot be understated, but the inclusion of the term "famine" did not always directly contribute to the research goals of the articles analyzed for the purposes of this article. In examples where this happened in the literature review, the sociopolitical implications of famine were not addressed, rendering the mention of "famine" as either misleading or unnecessary in light of research intent.

In some cases, bioarchaeologists used the term "famine" as a synonym for natural disasters such as drought or environmental change (Walker et al. 2009) that resulted in greater risk of death. In this sense, the causes and effects of famine were blurred. The use of "famine" as a synonym for environmental disaster obfuscates the multitude of mechanisms triggering famines and ignores fruitful discussion of how different communities within a larger population may be differentially affected.

Other researchers, such as DeWitte (2015), situated famine as a result of larger ecological and climactic patterns in historical periods. The occurrence of famines during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was directly caused by cooling temperatures, with known social, political, and economic consequences stemming from these recorded famines. DeWitte relies on age-at-death analysis to determine mortality rates of populations known to have undergone famines. Because of this contextualization of significant historical events, DeWitte (2015) demonstrates the holistic application of the term "famine" and is able to purse insightful bioarchaeological investigations.

"Famine" has been used as a term to imply mass starvation for long periods of time, or periods of instability where mass starvation occurs (Geber and Murphy 2012; Hadley and Crooks 2012; Turner et al. 2012). In this way, "famine" is always linked to reduced food availability, most likely as a result of crop failure (Kendall et al. 2013), yet the contributions of social implications or additional factors to famine are not explored in all studies. Instead, "famine" is presented simply as a failure of crops that leads to mass starvation and inflated mortality rates. This simplification can misrepresent other causes of high mortality and many sociopolitical factors that arise from failed crops. Fundamental social factors, such as economic depression, inflation of food prices, and political instability, can contribute to crop failures becoming famines. These common variables can be seen in historically documented famines such as the Great Irish Famine (Crawford 1995; Kinealy 1995; O Grada 1995) and in more recent famines such as the 2010-2011 famine in Somalia (Hillbruner and Moloney 2012; Lautze et al. 2012; Salama et al. 2012). Threads of these complicated sociopolitical complexes can be seen in bioarchaeological studies published by Geber and Murphy (2012) and Geber (2014), which integrated valuable paleopathological data with documented evidence of the Great Irish Famine.

"Famine" was commonly used as a potential cause for skeletal evidence of biocultural stress (e.g., Guatelli-Steinberg and Lukacs 1999) or malnutrition. Theoretical approaches to studying famine in related disciplines demonstrate that while nutritional stress is a component of famine events, it is only one of many components of famine and should be examined in conjunction with other social factors beyond physiological disturbances. Yaussy et al. (2016) outline the complex ways in which all of these factors culminate, and the authors build upon this complexity to examine how these conditions manifest in demographic mortality trends by linking skeletal stress markers to historically significant events culminating around recorded famines. By using rigorously established chronologies in medieval London cemeteries alongside skeletal evidence, this study demonstrates how bioarchaeologists can capitalize on multidisciplinary analysis to further our knowledge of the realities past communities faced under catastrophic famines.

Reviewed articles that referred to nutritional deficiencies were more likely to focus on paleopathological analysis, attempting to relate the occurrence of metabolic diseases (Ellis 2015; Geber and Murphy 2012), enamel hypoplastic defects (Geber 2014; Slaus et al. 2011; Temple et al. 2012; Zadzinska et al. 2015), iron deficiency (Lovell 1997; Walker et al. 2009), and stunted growth (Ahlstrom 2011; Arcini et al. 2014; Geber 2014) to episodes of famine. However, this single-focus approach is often used in a sense that takes for granted its implied definition; most often, the reader is assumed to understand that famines result in populations having restricted access to typical food sources without explicitly defining these concepts.

The concept of "famine" as food shortages frames the loss of food resources as an inevitable consequence of major events, such as ecological disasters or warfare, that ultimately disrupted social norms or population demographics (Hadley and Crooks 2012). The biological impact of food shortages is implied to be deleterious. Often, studies focused on osteological stress markers (Ahlstrom 2011; Arcini et al. 2014; McEwan et al. 2005) without examining the implicit cause of these physiological disruptions. Except for specific historical famines, such as the Great Irish Famine (Geber and Murphy 2012) and the Dutch famine of World War II (Ahlstrom 2011), articles in this category rarely delved into the types of sociopolitical structures that would prevent individuals from accessing food during famine events. One article within this category focused on potential "famine foods" (Chroszcz et al. 2015) with the inference that during periods of reduced food accessibility, less desirable (or less nutritious) foods were consumed (Otero and Novellino 2011; Walker et al. 2009). Although the article by Hadley and Crooks (2012) was not reviewed for this article, as it was published in the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, their theoretical review of the types of biosocial risks posed by modern famines acts as a rigorous template for bioarchaeologists to follow in seeking applications for past events.

A couple of less commonly used concepts of famine also appeared in a number of journal articles. These are categorized together as "other" in Table 2. The idea of "famine conditions" suggests chronic malnutrition that may not even be directly related to any event or disaster that could be determined as a famine following criteria outlined by current scholarship and health organizations. In this sense, "famine" is used as a synonym of malnutrition from periods of starvation, regardless of the actual causes of the nutritional insufficiency (Bernstein 2010; Ivanovsky 1923; Newman 1962). The use of "famine" as an event around which to measure demographic changes through death rates or migration (Kendall et al. 2013; Slaus et al. 2011; Turner et al. 2012) does not contribute any knowledge to the causes of famine or to the consequences of famine besides mortality.

A number of articles (Grauer and Roberts 1996; Lambert 2002; Radu et al. 2016; Santos and Roberts 2001) linked famine to decreased immunity to infectious diseases within the affected populations. In this context, famine was one type of event that affected the immunological responses of survivors to other deleterious conditions, but the underlying mechanism as to how famine contributed to physiological stress was not further elaborated. As a result of this ambiguous contextualization of the term "famine," these articles were categorized as "other."

Osteological Consequences of Famine Conditions

Building on the significant work that has started to integrate aspects of the full social and political consequences of famine situations at a population and transnational level, there are multiple lines of evidence that are employed to great effect. Nutritional stress that can come as a result of starvation or malnutrition is commonly explored in many archaeological populations as changes in skeletal development that can be directly associated with dietary changes. Bioarchaeological studies into famine have used stunted stature (DeWitte and Hughes-Morey 2012; Ortner 2003), the presence of linear enamel hypoplastic defects to reflect physiological stresses in childhood (Zhou and Corruccini 1998), and skeletal lesions associated with scurvy (Geber and Murphy 2012) as proxies for wider nutritional stress related to famine.

Famine-related diseases associated with deleterious food quality, such as diarrhea and dysentery (Geary 1995; Kinealy 1995), would affect the digestive tract and could result in rapid fatality. The lack of soft tissue and the inability for the body to recover from these diseases would rule out the possibility of identifying specific etiologies in the skeleton. Other infectious diseases that are most commonly linked to famines include smallpox, typhus fever, relapsing fever (Geary 1995; Kinealy 1995), measles (Connolly et al. 2004; Mahamud et al. 2013), malaria (Connolly et al. 2004), and cholera (Mokyr and O Grada 2002). These diseases are transmitted as a result of poor hygiene and living conditions that can occur during famines, but because they do not manifest in the skeleton, confirmation of their presence is limited to expensive and time-intensive aDNA analysis.

Historically verified famine populations could provide a reference from which to develop criteria necessary to identify other afflicted communities in the past. Geber and Murphy (2012; followed by Geber 2014) used a known population that lived during the Great Irish Famine (Kilkenny, Ireland) to determine the types of paleopathological markers that came as a result of famine conditions. The nutritional deficiencies expressed through scurvy (Geber and Murphy 2012), enamel hypoplasia, Harris lines, and stunted stature (Geber 2014) were used as evidence to infer physiological disruptions were direct consequences of famine. This approach focused on deductive evidence, demonstrating how individuals were biologically affected by an event that has its sociopolitical elements extensively documented.

Skeletal evidence for famine victims (or survivors) is contingent on a number of assumptions that tie certain maladies to the consequence of famine, such as severe malnutrition and exposure to infectious diseases. However, homogeneous application of famine conditions to an entire population sets up a false binary in which individuals displaying certain markers are assumed to have been famine victims, whereas those who do not share these osteological signs are exempt from the "famine population" (e.g., Beaumont et al. 2015). The osteological paradox may affect how famine victims are identified, as individuals who died during genuine famine events may not have developed any physiological stress markers related to their demise. This obscures the variability of physiological consequences of malnutrition and also amalgamates all individuals of an affected population, regardless of actual risk of starvation or cause of death. This base assumption is layered with multiple issues in terms of extrapolating famine as the underlying cause rather than verifying the presence of a historically confirmed famine through physical evidence. Simply, severe malnutrition is not limited to widespread food shortages that may come as a result of famine. Likewise, many of the infectious diseases that make up a large portion of famine mortality either do not manifest skeletally or are direct consequences of poor living conditions rather than malnutrition and/or sudden loss of food sources.

Biochemical Evidence of Famine Conditions

Recent studies utilizing stable isotope analysis have demonstrated that elevated levels of [[delta].sup.15]N can indicate maternal and neonatal physiological stress levels (Beaumont et al. 2015). Aberrant [14/15sup (.)N] ratios can result from conditions of food insecurity (e.g., Wheeler et al. 2013), potentially acting as another line of evidence for famine conditions.

Changes in stable food items could be reflected in nitrogen and carbon levels through isotopic analysis (Beaumont and Montgomery 2016; Gil et al. 2014; Reynard et al. 2011; Turner et al. 2012). As demonstrated during the Great Irish Famine, the collapse of the potato crop produced acute changes to culturally defined dietary practices. Those affected by the crop failure had to rely on less familiar food sources, such as Indian corn and nettles, or on deleterious foods, such as diseased potatoes or carrion (Crawford 1995). Typical isotopic levels would have to be preestablished within the examined population in order to determine dietary changes. Issues of bone turnover and average values being represented in bone collagen can also affect the practicality of using stable isotope analysis to examine acute occurrences of famine. This amount of detail over different time periods may not be possible in all cases and could conflate individual variation or cultural differences within the group with abrupt changes in diets as a result of sudden natural disasters such as drought, flooding, or crop failures.

Other Evidence for Famine

The culminating factors that can occur from famine can be investigated in bioarchaeology through telltale skeletal changes that can reflect poor nutritional intake and other repercussions attributed to famine. Stable isotope differences (Beaumont et al. 2013; Kendall et al. 2013; Turner et al. 2012) and genetic drift (Adachi et al. 2004; Relethford et al. 1997) have been examined in certain populations as an attempt to trace migratory patterns as a response to famine conditions. Migrants can be detected by observing atypical levels of strontium and oxygen isotopic signatures within past communities (Turner et al. 2012). Carbon and nitrogen isotopes can also be analyzed to differentiate local from migrant diets (Turner et al. 2012). However, the presence of migrants in a local community in itself cannot be used as direct evidence for famine in the originating population.

The inclusion of zooarchaeological and faunal remains associated with human communities is another line of evidence available for bioarchaeologists. Two zooarchaeological articles from JAS (Byrd et al. 2013; Germonpre et al. 2012) and one from IJO (Chroszcz et al. 2015) that were not included in the literature review focused on butchered canid remains, leading to the idea that canids may have been consumed in response to food insecurity. Neither article definitively concluded whether their samples were related to periods of famine. One article published in AJPA focused on stable isotopic analysis in pigs in a controlled environment to determine how growth rate factors are related to tissue isotopic fractionation (Warinner and Tuross 2010). Although famine was not included as a focal point of this study, the results are important in demonstrating how stable isotope analysis on faunal remains shows poor diets and their subsequent impact on growth rates of both domesticated animals and humans. Changes in mortality profiles of livestock and the stunted development of animals after a famine period are other possible ways for bioarchaeologists and zooarchaeologists to note large-scale changes in food accessibility.

The efforts to interpret potential famines in the past through archaeological investigations can incorporate additional elements outside of the skeleton (Morgan 2013). Environmental reconstruction can aid in identifying periods of drought or climatic changes through archaeological evidence, dendrochronology, palynology, and stable isotope geochemistry (Me-Bar and Valdez 2003, 2005). As demonstrated in Ireland and Somalia, repeated periods of drought preceded the major famines in both countries without rising to the same devastation (Daly 1995; Lautze et al. 2012). What is missing in reconstructing environmental conditions are the sociopolitical elements that have no basis on climate yet ultimately influence the extent of food security and outcomes of famine.


This article intends to begin a conversation in bioarchaeology about famine, its definition, skeletal correlates, and potential isotopic signatures. It has been our goal to stimulate further discussion about different bioarchaeological approaches to "famine" and, particularly, to emphasize the importance of examining famine as a multi-layered sociopolitical complex. Because bioarchaeologists are interested in reconstructing health and dietary anomalies in past populations, the field would benefit from attention to external factors that have an impact on food quantity, availability, and nutritional quality. Relationships with other communities and internal social discrepancies affect regular access to food resources; changes in these social relationships can exacerbate periods of environmental fluctuation and could be the deciding factor between a seasonal shortage of food and a severe crisis. Since famine can be related to other stressful conditions, such as violence, disease epidemics, and destabilizing migrations, the diagnosis of famine in the archaeological record can erroneously suggest other complicated social elements that may not be observable with available evidence and may bias the reconstruction of the studied population. Other disciplines situate famine as a multiplicity of recognized components that may not appear in bioarchaeological evidence. This could lead to difficulties in drawing cross-disciplinary comparisons between modern communities affected by famine conditions and historical communities that have suffered in the past.

Individual lines of evidence can be examined in archaeological populations to suggest famine as one potential outcome. It is suggested that bioarchaeologists focus on the possibility of investigating severe malnutrition or starvation in osteological collections rather than categorizing the evidence of these conditions as manifestations of famine, as inconsistent definitions of the term may end up hampering accurate reconstruction of past famine events. Stable isotope analysis can be used to track demographic disruptions through migrations or sudden changes in dietary resources. Pathogens that often accompany deleterious social conditions as a result of famine can be identified through aDNA. Through paleoclimate analysis and determining the occurrences of past droughts, archaeologists can help reconstruct unfavourable environmental conditions and complex social networks with other communities that can coincide with deleterious health conditions to develop a better understanding of past populations.

Although bioarchaeologists are primarily concerned with studying the past, theoretical developments coupled with methodological advances in uncovering famines can be utilized for modern applications. Bioarchaeologists, as part of a broad scholastic body incorporating biological science with social studies, collaborate with other disciplines to address current and future issues plaguing human populations. With climate change sparking ecological disasters at a faster rate, communities across the globe are becoming increasingly susceptible to large-scale crises that will charge fraught sociopolitical dynamics. By examining the culmination of physical markers, bioarchaeological researchers can follow the repercussions of full-scale disasters in historically identified famines. The application of this knowledge can help to predict and may aid in preventing similar consequences from developing in the future.


This article began as a paper presented at the special session "Strange Bodies, Familiar Divides: Embodiments of Otherness" at the 2015 American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Denver, Colorado. We extend our gratitude to John J. Crandall and Dr. Pamela K. Stone for organizing the session and to all the session participants and audience members for their helpful feedback.

References Cited

Adachi, Noboru, Kazuo Umetsu, Wataru Takigawa, and Kazuhiro Sakaue. 2004. Phylogenetic analysis of the human ancient mitochondrial DNA. Journal of Archaeological Science 31:1339-1348. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2004.02.011.

Ahlstrom, Torbjon. 2011. Life-history theory, past human populations, and climate pertubations. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21:407-419. DOI: 10.1002/oa.1147.

Arcini, Caroline, Torbjon Ahlstrom, and Goran Tagesson. 2014. Variations in diet and stature: Are they linked? Bioarchaeology and paleodietary Bayesian mixing models from Linkoping, Sweden. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24:543-556. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2247.

Beauchesne, Patrick, and Sabrina C. Agarwal. 2014. Age-related cortical bone maintenance and loss in an imperial Roman population. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24:15-30. DOI: 10.1002/oa.1303.

Beaumont, Julia, Jonny Geber, Natasha Powers, Andrew Wilson, Julia Lee-Thorp, and Janet Montgomery. 2013. Victims and survivors: Stable isotopes used to identify migrants from the Great Irish Famine to 19th century London. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 150:87-98. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22179.

Beaumont, Julia, and Janet Montgomery. 2016. The Great Irish Famine: Identifying starvation in the tissues of victims using stable isotope analysis of bone and incremental dentine collagen. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160065.

Beaumont, Julia, Janet Montgomery, Jo Buckberry, and Mandy Jay. 2015. Infant mortality and isotopic complexity: New approaches to stress, maternal health, and weaning. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 147:441-457. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22736.

Bernstein, Robin M. 2010. The big and small of it: How body size evolves. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 53:46-62. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21440.

Byrd, Brian F., Anna Cornellas, Jelmer W. Eerkens, Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, Tim R. Carpenter, Alan Leventhal, and Jennifer A. Leonard. 2013. The role of canids in ritual and domestic contexts: New ancient DNA insights from complex hunter-gatherer sites in prehistoric Central California. Journal of Archaeological Science 40:2176-2189. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.12.020.

Chen, Lincoln C., and A. K. M. Alauddin Chowdhury. 1977. The dynamics of contemporary famine. Mexico International Population Conference. Vol. 1. International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, Liege, pp. 409-426.

Chroszcz, Aleksander, Maciej Janeczek, Zora M. Bielichova, Tomasz Gralak, and Vedat Onar. 2015. Cynophagia in the Puchov (Celtic) culture settlement at Liptovska Mara, northern Slovakia. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25:528-538. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2320.

Connolly, Maire A., Michelle Gayer, Michael J. Ryan, Peter Salama, Paul Spiegel, and David L. Heynman. 2004. Communicable diseases in complex emergencies: Impact and challenges. Lancet 364:1974-1983. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17481-3.

Crawford, E. Margaret. 1995. Food and famine. In The Great Irish Famine, edited by Cathal Poirteir. Mercier Press, Dublin, pp. 60-73.

Cucina, Andrea, Rita Vargiu, Domenico Mancinelli, R. Ricci, E. Santandrea, Paola Catalano, and Alfredo Coppa. 2006. The necropolis of Vallerano (Rome, 2nd-3rd century AD): An anthropological perspective on the ancient Romans in the Suburbium. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 16:104-117. DOI: 10.1002/oa.808.

Currey, Bruce. 1992. Is famine a discrete event? Disasters 16(2):138-144. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.1992.tb00387.x.

Daly, Mary E. 1995. The operations of famine relief, 1845-1847. In The Great Irish Famine, edited by Cathal Poirteir. Mercier Press, Dublin, pp. 123-134.

de Waal, Alex. 1989. Famine mortality: A case study of Darfur, Sudan (1984-5). Population Studies 4:5-24. DOI: 10.1080/0032472031000143826.

DeWitte, Sharon N. 2015. Setting the stage for medieval plague: Pre--Black Death trends in survival and mortality. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 158:441-451. DOI: 10. 1002/ajpa.22806.

DeWitte, Sharon N., and Gail Hughes-Morey. 2012. Stature and frailty during the Black Death: The effect of stature on risks of epidemic mortality in London, A.D. 1348-1350. Journal of Archaeological Science 39:1412-1419. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.019.

Eerkens, Jelmer W., Ada G. Berget, and Eric J. Bartelink. 2011. Estimating weaning and early childhood diet from serial micro-samples of dentin collagen. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:3101-3111. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.07.010.

Eleazar, Courtney D., and Rimantas Jankauskas. 2016. Mechanical and metabolic interactions in cortical bone development. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160:317-333. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22967.

Ellis, Meredith A. B. 2015. Presence and absence: an exploration of scurvy in the commingled subadults in the Spring Street Presbyterian Church Collection, Lower Manhattan. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26(5):759-766. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2473.

Finucane, Brian Clifton. 2007. Mummies, maize, and manure: Multi-tissue stable isotope analysis of late prehistoric human remains from the Ayacucho Valley, Peru. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:2115-2124. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2007.02.006.

Geary, Laurence M. 1995. Famine, fever and the Bloody Flux. In The Great Irish Famine, edited by Cathal Poirteir. Mercier Press, Dublin, pp. 74-85.

Geber, Jonny. 2014. Skeletal manifestations of stress in child victims of the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852): Prevalence of enamel hypoplasia, Harris Lines, and growth retardation. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155:149-161. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22567.

Geber, Jonny, and Eileen Murphy. 2012. Scurvy in the Great Irish Famine: Evidence of vitamin C deficiency from a mid-19th century skeletal population. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148:512-524. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22066.

Germonpre, Mietje, Martina Laznickova-Galetova, and Mikhail V. Sablin. 2012. Paleolithic dog skulls at the Gravettian Predmosti site, the Czech Republic. Journal of Archaeological Science 39:184-202. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.09.022.

Gil, Adolfo F., Ricardo Villalba, Andrew Ugan, Valeria Cortegoso, Gustavo Neme, Catalina Teresa Michieli, Paula Novellino, and Victor Duran. 2014. Isotopic evidence on human bone for declining maize consumption during the Little Ice Age in central western Argentina. Journal of Archaeological Science 49:213-227. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.05.009.

Gowland, Rebecca L. 2015. Entangled lives: Implications of the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis for bioarchaeology and the life course. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 158:530-540. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22820.

Grauer, Anne L., and Charlotte A. Roberts. 1996. Paleoepidemiology, healing, and possible treatment of trauma in the medieval cemetery population of St. Helen-on-the-Walls, York, England. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 100:531-544. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199608)100:4<531::AID-AJPA7>3.0.CO;2-T.

Guatelli-Steinberg, Debbie, and John R. Lukacs. 1999. Interpreting sex differences in enamel hypoplasia in human and non-human primates: Developmental, environmental, and cultural considerations. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 42:73-126. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(1999)110:29+<73::AID-AJPA4>3.0.CO;2-K.

Hadley, Craig, and Deborah L. Crooks. 2012. Coping and the biological consequences of food insecurity in the 21st century. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 55:72-94. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22161.

Hillbruner, Chris, and Grainne Moloney. 2012. When early warning is not enough: Lessons learned from the 2011 Somalia famine. Global Food Security 1:20-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.gfs.2012.08.001.

Houldcroft, Charlotte J., and Simon J. Underdown. 2016. Neanderthal genome suggests a Pleistocene time frame for the first epidemiological transition. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160:379-388. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22985.

Howe, Paul. 2010. Archetypes of famine and response. Disasters 34(1):30-54. DOI: 10.1111/j.0361-3666.2009.01113.x.

Howe, Paul, and Stephen Devereux. 2004. Famine intensity and magnitude scales: A proposal for an instrumental definition of famine. Disasters 28(4):353-372. DOI: 10.1111/j.0361-3666.2004.00263.x.

Irish, Joel D., and Christy G. Turner. 1997. Brief communication: First evidence of LSAMAT in non-Native Americans: Historic Senegalese from West Africa. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 102:141-146. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199701)102:1<141::AID-AJPA12>3.0.CO;2-0.

Ivanovksy, Alexis. 1923. Physical modifications of the population of Russia under famine. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 4(4):331-353. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1330060402.

Jones, Sharyn, Heather Walsh-Haney, and Rhonda L. Quinn. 2015. Kana Tamata or Feasts of Men: An interdisciplinary approach for identifying cannibalism in prehistoric Fiji. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25:127-145. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2269.

Kacki, Sacha, Lila Rahalison, Minoarisoa Rajerison, Ezio Ferroglio, and Raffaella Bianucci. 2011. Black Death in the rural cemetery of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Cabrerisse Aude-Languedoc, southern France, 14th century: Immunological evidence. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:581-587. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.10.012.

Kaupova, Sylva, Estelle Herrscher, Petr Veleminsky, Sandrine Cabut, Lumir Polacek, and Jaroslav Bruzek. 2014. Urban and rural infant-feeding practices and health in early medieval central Europe (9th-10th century, Czech Republic). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155:635-651. DOI: 10. 1002/ajpa.22620.

Kendall, Ellen J., Janet Montgomery, Jane A. Evans, Chris Stantis, and V. Mueller. 2013. Mobility, mortality, and the Middle Ages: Identification of migrant individuals in a 14th century Black Death cemetery population. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 150:210-222. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22194.

Kinealy, Christine. 1995. This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine, 1845-1852. Roberts Rinehart, Boulder.

Klaus, Haagen D. 2014. Frontiers in the bioarchaeology of stress and disease: Cross-disciplinary perspectives from pathophysiology, human biology, and epidemiology. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155(2):294-308. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22574.

Krakowka, Kathryn. 2015. Violence-related trauma from the Cisterian Abbey of St Mary Graces and a late Black Death cemetery. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology DOI: 10.1002/oa.2462.

Lambert, Patricia M. 2002. Rib lesions in a prehistoric Puebloan sample from southwestern Colorado. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 117:281-292. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.10036.

Lautze, Sue, Winnie Bell, Luca Alinovi, and Luca Russo. 2012. Early warning, late response (again): The 2011 famine of Somalia. Global Food Security 1:43-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.gfs.2012.07.006.

Lazenby, Richard A. 2002. Population variation in second metacarpal sexual size dimorphism. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 118:378-384. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.10110.

Lewis, Mary E. 2010. Life and death in a Civitas capital: Metabolic disease and trauma in the children from Late Roman Dorchester, Dorset. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 142:405-416. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21239.

Lindtjorn, Bernt. 1990. Famine in southern Ethiopia 1985-6: Population structure, nutritional state, and incidence of death among children. British Medical Journal 301:1123-1127. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.301.6761.1123.

Lovell, Nancy C. 1997. Anaemia in the ancient Indus Valley. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 7:115-123. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1212(199703)7:2<115::AID-OA323>3.0.CO;2-H.

Lovell, Nancy C., and Ira Whyte. 1999. Patterns of dental defects at ancient Mendes, Egypt. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 110:69-80. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199909)110:1<69::AID-AJPA6>3.0.CO;2-U.

Mahamud, Abdirahman, Ann Burton, Mohamed Hassan, Jamal A. Ahmed, John B. Wagacha, Paul Spiegel, Chris Haskew, Rachel B. Eidex, Sharmila Shetty, Susan Cookson, Carlos Navarro-Colorado, and James L. Goodson. 2013. Risk factors for measles mortality among hospitalized Somali refugees displaced by famine, Kenya, 2011. Clinical Infectious Diseases 57(8):e160-e166. DOI: 10.1093/cid/cit442.

Majid, Nisar, and Stephen McDowell. 2012. Hidden dimensions of the Somalia famine. Global Food Security 1:36-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.gfs.2012.07.003.

Malville, Nancy J. 1997. Enamel hypoplasia in ancestral Puebloan populations from southwestern Colorado: I. Permanent dentition. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 102:351-367. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199703)102:3<351::AID-AJPA5>3.0.CO;2-Y.

Margerison, Beverley J., and Christopher J. Knusel. 2002. Paleodemographic comparison of a catastrophic and an attritional death assemblage. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 119:134-143. DOI 10.1002/ajpa.10082.

Maxwell, Daniel, and Merry Fitzpatrick. 2012. The 2011 Somalia famine: Context, causes and complications. Global Food Security 1:5-12. DOI: 10.1016/j.gfs.2012.07.002.

McEwan, J. M., S. Mays, and G. M. Blake. 2005. The relationship of bone mineral density and other growth parameters to stress indicators in a medieval juvenile population. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 15:155-163. DOI: 10.1002/oa.750.

Me-Bar, Yoav, and Fred Valdez Jr. 2003. Droughts as random events in the Maya lowlands. Journal of Archaeological Science 30:1599-1606. DOI: 10.1016/S0305-4403(03)00057-8.

Me-Bar, Yoav, and Fred Valdez Jr. 2005. On the vulnerability of the ancient Maya society to natural threats. Journal of Archaeological Science 32:813-825. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2004.11.015.

Meyer, Anja, and Maryna Steyn. 2016. Chinese indentured mine labour and the dangers associated with early 20th century deep-level mining on the Witwatersrand Gold Mines, South Africa. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26(4):648-660. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2455.

Mokyr, Joel, and Cormac O Grada. 2002. What do people die of during famines: The Great Irish Famine in comparative perspective. European Review of Economic History 6:339-363. DOI: 10.1017/S1361491602000163.

Moore, Henrietta L. 1990. When is a famine not a famine? Anthropology Today 6(1):1-3. DOI: 10.2307/3033179.

Morgan, Johanna. 2013. The invisible hunger: Is famine identifiable from the archaeological record? Antrocom Online Journal of Anthropology 9(1):115-129.

Muldner, Gundala, Carolyn Chenery, and Hella Eckardt. 2011. The "Headless Romans": Multi-isotope investigations of an unusual burial ground from Roman Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:280-290. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.09.003.

Murton, Brian. 2000. Famine. In The Cambridge World History of Food, edited by Kenneth E. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 1411-1426.

Nakayama, Nana. 2016. The relationship between linear enamel hypoplasia and social status in 18th to 19th century Edo, Japan. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26:1034-1044. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2515.

Newman, Marshall T. 1962. Ecology and nutritional stress in man. American Anthropologist 64:22-34.

Ogilvie, Marsha D., and Charles E. Hilton. 2000. Ritualized violence in the prehistoric American Southwest. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 10:27-48. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1212(200001/02)10:1<27::AID-OA503>3.0.CO;2-M.

O Grada, Cormac. 1995. The Great Irish Famine. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Ortner, D. J. 2003. Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains. 2nd ed. Academic Press, London.

Ortner, Donald J., Whitney Butler, Jessica Cafarella, and Lauren Milligan. 2001. Evidence of probable scurvy in subadults from archeological sites in North America. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 114:343-351. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1046.

Otero, Julieta Gomez, and Paula Novellino. 2011. Diet, nutritional status and oral health in hunter-gatherers from the central-northern coast of Patagonia and the Chubut River lower valley, Argentina. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21(6):643-659. DOI: 10.1002/oa.1171.

Paine, Richard R. 2000. If a population crashes in prehistory, and there is no paleodemographer there to hear it, does it make a sound? American Journal of Physical Anthropology 112:181-190. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(2000)112:2<181::AID-AJPA5>3.0.CO;2-9.

Radu, Claudia, L. Andreica, Mihai Constantinescu, and Andrei Soficaru. 2016. Multiple cases with probable treponemal infection from the 16th to 19th centuries Romania. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26(4):535-573. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2444.

Reinhard, Karl J., and Dennis R. Danielson. 2005. Pervasiveness of phytoliths in prehistoric southwestern diet and implications for regional and temporal trends for dental microwear. Journal of Archaeological Science 32:981-988. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2005.01.014.

Reitsema, Laurie J., and Britney Kyle McIlvaine. 2014. Reconciling "stress" and "health" in physical anthropology: What can bioarchaeologists learn from other disciplines? American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155(2):181-185. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22596.

Relethford, John H., Michael C. Crawford, and John Blangero. 1997. Genetic drift and gene flow in post-Famine Ireland. Human Biology 69(4):443-465.

Reynard, Linda M., Gideon M. Henderson, and Robert E. M. Hedges. 2011. Calcium isotopes in archaeological bones and their relationship to dairy consumption. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:657-664. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.10.017.

Rivers, J. P. W., J. F. J. Holt, J. A. Seaman, and M. R. Bowden. 1976. Lessons for epidemiology from the Ethiopian famines. Annales de la Societe Belge de Medecine Tropicale 56(4-5): 346-357.

Salama, Peter, Grainne Moloney, Oleg. O. Bilukha, Leisel Talley, Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey, Christopher Hillbruner, Louise Masese-Mwirigi, Elijah Odundo, and Michael H. Golden. 2012. Famine in Somalia: Evidence for a declaration. Global Food Security 1:13-19. DOI: 10.1016/j.gfs.2012.08.002.

Santana-Cabrera, Jonathan, Javier Velasco-Vasquez, Amelia C. Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Gonzalez-Marrero, Maria del Cristo, and Teresa Delgado-Darias. 2016. The paths of the European conquest of the Atlantic: Osteological evidence of warfare and violence in Gran Canaria (XV century). International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26(5):767-777. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2476.

Santos, Ana Luisa, and Charlotte A. Roberts. 2001. A picture of tuberculosis in young Portugese people in the early 20th century: A multidisciplinary study of the skeletal and historical evidence. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 115:38-49. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1054.

Schwarcz, Henry P., and Christine D. White. 2004. The grasshopper or the ant? Cultigen-use strategies in ancient Nubia from C-13 analyses of human hair. Journal of Archaeological Science 31:753-762. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2003.11.00.

Scott, Amy B., Ka-Yee Choi, Neeloffer Mookherjee, Robert D. Hoppa, and Linda A. Larcombe. 2016. The biochemical signatures of stress: A preliminary analysis of osteocalcin concentrations and macroscopic skeletal changes associated with stress in the 13th-17th centuries Black Friars population. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 159:596-606. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22915.

Scott, Ann M. 2016. Providing cultural context for "The Sacrifice of Social Outcasts." International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26(6):1103-1005. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2514.

Sen, Amartya. 1981. Ingredients of famine analysis: Availability and entitlements. Quarterly Journal of Economics 96(3): 433-464.

Slaus, Mario, Zeljka Bedic, Petra Rajic Sikanjic, Marin Vodanovic, and Alka Domic Kunic. 2011. Dental health at the transition from the Late Antique to the Early Medieval Period on Croatia's eastern Adriatic Coast. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21:577-590. DOI: 10.1002/oa.1163.

Smolin, Lori A., and Mary B. Grosvenor. 2003. Nutrition: Science and Applications. 4th ed. Wiley, Hoboken, New Jersey.

Stewart Fotheringham, A., Mary H. Kelly, and Martin Charlton. 2013. The demographic impacts of the Irish famine: Towards a greater geographical understanding. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 38(2):221-237. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00517.x.

Stojanowski, Christopher M., and Jane E. Buikstra. 2005. Research trends in human osteology: A content analysis of papers published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 128:98-109. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20088.

Temple, Danie H., Masato Nakatsukasa, and Jennifer N. McGroarty. 2012. Reconstructing patterns of systemic stress in a Jomon period subadult using incremental microstructures of enamel. Journal of Archaeological Science 39:1634-1641. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.12.021.

Tromp, Monica, and John V. Dudgeon. 2015. Differentiating dietary and non-dietary microfossils extracted from human dental calculus: The importance of sweet potato to ancient diet on Rapa Nui. Journal of Archaeological Science 54:54-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.11.024.

Tsutaya, Takumi, Akina Shimomi, Tomohito Nagaoka, Junmei Sawada, Kazuaki Hirata, and Minoru Yoneda. 2015. Infant feeding practice in medieval Japan: Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human skeletons from Yuigahama-Minami. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 156: 241-251. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22643.

Turner, Bethany L., Molly K. Zuckerman, Evan M. Garofalo, Andrew Wilson, George D. Kamenov, David R. Hunt, Tsend Amgalantugs, and Brunho Frohlich. 2012. Diet and death in times of war: Isotopic and osteological analysis of mummified human remains from southern Mongolia. Journal of Archaeological Science 39:3125-3140. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.04.053.

Vigeant, Jacinthe, Isabelle Ribot, and Helie, Jean-Francois. 2016. Dietary habits in New France during the 17th and 18th centuries: An isotopic perspective. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 162(3):462-475. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23129.

Walker, Phillip L., Rhonda R. Bathurst, Rebecca Richman, Thor Gejdrum, and Valerie A. Andrushko. 2009. The causes of porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia: A reappraisal of the iron-deficiency-anemia hypothesis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139:109-125. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21031.

Warinner, Christina, and Noreen Tuross. 2010. Brief communication: Tissue isotopic enrichment associated with growth depression in a pig: implications for archaeology and ecology. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 141:486-493. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21222.

Watkins, Susan Cotts, and Jane Menken. 1985. Famines in historical perspective. Population and Development Review 11(4):647-675. DOI: 10.2307/1973458.

Webb, Patrick, and Joachim von Braun. 1994. Famine and Food Security in Ethiopia: Lessons for Africa. John Wiley, Chichester.

Wheeler, Sandra M., Lana Williams, Patrick Beauschesne, and Tosha L. Dupras. 2013. Shattered lives and broken childhoods: Evidence of physical abuse in ancient Egypt. International Journal of Paleopathology 3(2):71-82. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2013.03.2009.

Wisner, Ben, and John Adams. 2002. Environmental Health in Emergencies and Disasters: A Practical Guide. World Health Organization, Geneva.

Yaussy, Samantha L., Sharon N. DeWitte, and Rebecca C. Red-fern. 2016. Frailty and famine: Patterns of mortality and physiological stress among victims of famine in medieval London. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160:272-283. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22954.

Zadzinska, Elzbieta, Wieslaw Lorkiewicz, Marta Kurek, and Beata Borowska-Struginska. 2015. Accentuated lines in the enamel of primary incisors from skeletal remains: A contribution to the explanation of early childhood mortality in a medieval population from Poland. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 157:402-410. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22731.

Zhou, Liming, and Robert S. Corruccini. 1998. Enamel hypoplasias related to famine stress in living Chinese. American Journal of Human Biology 10:723-733. DOI: 10.1002/(SICi)1520-6300(1998)10:6<723::AID-AJHB4>3.0.CO;2-Q.

(1.) This definition of "starvation" follows literature used by the medical sciences. Bioarchaeologists, however, rely on physiological markers as evidence for starvation, thus osteological manifestations of starvation reflect extreme duress. This discrepancy can account for the various ways in which different social sciences understand starvation.

Kalyna Horocholyn, (a*) and Megan B. Brickley (a)

(a) Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

(*) Correspondence to: Kalyna Horocholyn, Chester New Hall, Room 521, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street W., Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L9


Submitted 09 February 2017

Revised 08 April 2017

Accepted 03 June 2017

DOI: 10.5744/bi.2017.1008
Table 1. Number of Bioarchaeological Papers Published in Three Major
Anthropological Journals Including the Term "Famine," 1996-2016

Year of Publication  AJPA (1)  IJO (2)  JAS (3)

1996-2000             6         2        0
2001-2005             5         1        2
2006-2010             2         1        1
2011-2016            15        13        9
Total published      28        17       13

(1.) AJPA: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
(2.) IJO: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
(3.) JAS: Journal of Archaeological Science

Table 2. Use of the Term "Famine" in Three Major Anthropological
Journals, 1996-2016

                          Ecological  Mass        Nutritional
Journal   Total Articles  Disaster    Starvation  Stress

AJPA (1)      28           7 (25.0%)  5 (17.9%)   12 (42.9%)
IJO (2)       17           3 (17.6%)  1 (5.9%)     6 (35.3%)
JAS (3)       13           3 (23.1%)  2 (15.4%)    3 (23.1%)
Total         58          13 (22.4%)  8 (13.8%)   20 (34.5%)

Journal   Food Shortage  Other       Research

AJPA (1)   4 (14.3%)      9 (32.1%)  10 (35.7%)
IJO (2)    5 (29.4%)      5 (29.4%)   0 (0%)
JAS (3)    2 (15.4%)      4 (30.8%)   4 (30.8%)
Total     12 (20.7%)     18 (31.0%)  14 (24.1%)

Percentile points relate to proportion of articles within one journal
using a given definition. Total row includes the proportion of articles
using a given definition across all three journals.
(1.) AJPA: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
(2.) IJO: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
(3.) JAS: Journal of Archaeological Science

Table 3. Use of the Term "Famine" in American Journal of Physical
Anthropology Articles, 1996-2016

                                    Definitions of "Famine"
                                    Ecological  Mass        Nutritional
Authors                             Disaster    Starvation  Stress

Grauer and Roberts 1996
Malville 1997                                                X
Irish and Turner 1997                X
Guatelli-Steinberg and Lukacs 1999                           X
Lovell and Whyte 1999                X           X
Paine 2000
Santos and Roberts 2001
Lazenby 2002                                                 X
Lambert 2002
Margerison and Knusel 2002
Ortner et al. 2001                                           X
Walker et al. 2009                                           X
Lewis 2010
Geber and Murphy 2012                            X           X
Beaumont et al. 2013                                         X
Kendall et al. 2013                  X
Geber 2014                           X           X           X
Kaupova et al. 2014
Beaumont et al. 2015                                         X
DeWitte 2015                         X           X
Gowland 2015                                                 X
Tsutaya et al. 2015
Zadzinska et al. 2015
Yaussy et al. 2016                   X           X           X
Eleazar and Jankauskas 2016                                  X
Vigeant et al. 2016                  X
Houldcroft and Underdown 2016
Scott et al. 2016
Total                                7           5          12
% (N/28)                            25.0        17.9        42.9

                                                           Number of
Authors                             Food Shortage  Other   1     2 +

Grauer and Roberts 1996                             X      X
Malville 1997                                              X
Irish and Turner 1997                                      X
Guatelli-Steinberg and Lukacs 1999                               X
Lovell and Whyte 1999                                            X
Paine 2000                                          X      X
Santos and Roberts 2001                             X      X
Lazenby 2002                                               X
Lambert 2002                                        X      X
Margerison and Knusel 2002                          X            X
Ortner et al. 2001                                         X
Walker et al. 2009                                               X
Lewis 2010                          X                      X
Geber and Murphy 2012                                            X
Beaumont et al. 2013                                             X
Kendall et al. 2013                                              X
Geber 2014                                                       X
Kaupova et al. 2014                                 X      X
Beaumont et al. 2015                                             X
DeWitte 2015                                                     X
Gowland 2015                                                     X
Tsutaya et al. 2015                  X                     X
Zadzinska et al. 2015                               X      X
Yaussy et al. 2016                   X                           X
Eleazar and Jankauskas 2016                         X      X
Vigeant et al. 2016                                        X
Houldcroft and Underdown 2016                       X      X
Scott et al. 2016                    X                     X
Total                                4              9     16    12
% (N/28)                            14.3           32.1   57.1  42.9

Table 4. Use of the Term "Famine" in International Journal of
Osteoarchaeology Articles, 1996-2016

                             Definitions of "Famine"
Ecological                   Mass      Nutritional          Food
Authors                      Disaster  Starvation   Stress  Shortage

Lovell 1997                                          X
Ogilvie and Hilton 2000
McEwan et al. 2005                                           X
Cucina et al. 2006                                           X
Ahlstrom 2011                                        X       X
Otero and Novellino 2011                                     X
Slaus et al. 2011
Arcini et al. 2014            X        X                     X
Beauchesne and Agarwal 2014                          X
Ellis 2015                                           X
Jones et al. 2015
Krakowka 2015
Meyer and Steyn 2016                                 X
Radu et al. 2016
Santana-Cabrera et al. 2016   X
Scott 2016                    X
Nakayama 2016                                        X
Total                         3        1             6       5
% (N/17)                     17.6      5.88         35.3    29.4

                                    Number of Mentions
Authors                      Other  1     2+

Lovell 1997                         X
Ogilvie and Hilton 2000       X     X
McEwan et al. 2005                  X
Cucina et al. 2006                  X
Ahlstrom 2011                             X
Otero and Novellino 2011            X
Slaus et al. 2011             X           X
Arcini et al. 2014                        X
Beauchesne and Agarwal 2014         X
Ellis 2015                          X
Jones et al. 2015             X     X
Krakowka 2015                 X     X
Meyer and Steyn 2016                X
Radu et al. 2016              X     X
Santana-Cabrera et al. 2016         X
Scott 2016                          X
Nakayama 2016                       X
Total                         5     14     3
% (N/17)                     29.4   82.4  17.6

Table 5. Use of the Term "Famine" in Journal of Archaeological Science
Articles, 1996-2016

                               Definitions of "Famine"
                               Ecological  Mass        Nutritional
Authors                        Disaster    Starvation  Stress

Adachi et al. 2004                          X
Schwarcz and White 2004
Reinhard and Danielson 2005
Finucane 2007                               X
Eerkens et al. 2011             X
Kacki et al. 2011               X
Muldner et al. 2011
Reynard et al. 2011
DeWitte and Hughes-Morey 2012                           X
Temple et al. 2012                                      X
Turner et al. 2012                                      X
Gil et al. 2014                 X
Tromp and Dudgeon 2015
Total                           3           2           3
% (N/13)                       23.1        15.4        23.1

                                                        Number of
Authors                        Food Shortage  Other     1     2+

Adachi et al. 2004                                             X
Schwarcz and White 2004         X                        X
Reinhard and Danielson 2005                    X         X
Finucane 2007                                                  X
Eerkens et al. 2011                                      X
Kacki et al. 2011                                        X
Muldner et al. 2011                            X         X
Reynard et al. 2011                            X         X
DeWitte and Hughes-Morey 2012                                  X
Temple et al. 2012                                       X
Turner et al. 2012              X                              X
Gil et al. 2014                                          X
Tromp and Dudgeon 2015                         X               X
Total                           2              4         8     5
% (N/13)                       15.4           30.8      61.5  38.5
COPYRIGHT 2017 University Press of Florida
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Horocholyn, Kalyna; Brickley, Megan B.
Publication:Bioarchaeology International
Date:Sep 22, 2017
Previous Article:Bioarchaeology of the Human Microbiome.
Next Article:Bioarchaeological Analysis of Disability and Caregiving from a Nineteenth-Century Institution in Central Kentucky.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters