By Mark N. Cohen, Gillian M. M. Crane-Kramer
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Additional info for Ancient Health: Skeletal Indicators of Agricultural and Economic Intensification
Maize was known to Middle Woodland gardeners 2,000 years ago (Riley et al. 1994; Bender et al. 1. Chronology of Cahokia-Area Sites Period Date Range Middle Archaic Late Archaic Early Woodland Middle Woodland Early Late Woodland Late Late Woodland/Emergent Mississippian Mississippian 8000–5000 bp 5000–2600 bp 2600–2150 bp 2150–1700 bp 1700–1250 bp 1250–1000 bp 1000–600 bp important food plant for another 750 years. It may have been traded into the Midwest rather than grown locally. Beans, the third element of what some once called a Mesoamerican triad, were introduced quite late, after Mesoamerican cucurbits and amaranths and long after maize (Lopinot 1994).
Data from Cahokia itself are confined to excavations from one mound, an early and complex elite mortuary Maize and Mississippians in the American Midwest 13 structure. Studies have documented important diagenetic effects on carbon isotope fractionation that underestimate maize use in poorly preserved bone (Buikstra et al. 1994). Elite male and female burials show lower maize use than do female mass (possibly sacrificial) burials. Female mass burials show higher rates of porotic hyperostosis and dental caries than do the elite burials.
Thus, broadly speaking, fewer individuals are affected in Georgia than Florida, but the individuals that are affected in Georgia exhibit more stress episodes than those in Florida. In temporal perspective, enamel defects do not increase in frequency. Rather, there is a decline in the number of individuals affected or only slight increases for the adoption of agriculture during the mission era in Florida. However, in both Georgia and Florida, the late mission period shows a sharp rise in the number of individuals affected, reflecting declining health, of which agricultural intensification was likely one factor.