The many measures of overall
robusticity in the postcranial skeleton, from the size of the scapula (scapular
index) and the pronounced linea aspera (site of attachment on the femur
for the hamstring muscles indicated by the pilastric index), illustrated
the general robust nature of St. Stephenâs Byzantine inhabitants.
Though not particularly tall individuals, they were quite stocky and muscular.
Summary: The average reconstructed height for this collection was 166.5 ± 6.6 cm. Several individuals demonstrated great robusticity, either in the size of their long bones (such as the 3 tibia approaching 192 cm reconstructed height), pronounced muscle markings, or overall bone breadth. In general, these indicators illustrate a healthy, robust, well-muscled group of individuals. The excellent degree of bone mineral maintenance alluded to in an earlier section fits this pattern as well. To maintain this morphology was energy expensive, implying an adequate-to-abundant caloric intake. Though only a cursory measure, these data suggest a well-fed, possibly affluent community.
When the general health indicated
by stature and robusticity is combined with the burial location of these
individuals, an intriguing argument begins to emerge regarding the status
of the remains. Although there are numerous Byzantine-style tombs
around the École Biblique grounds, these particular members of the
St. Stephenâs community were buried in the far older burial chambers.
In addition, there were numerous children in the same location, a pattern
not seen in the Byzantine-style tombs based upon preliminary surveys.
By utilizing the historical and archaeological records as collateral evidence, it is quite possible that these remains represent the elite segment of the Byzantine St. Stephenâs community. It is not uncommon to find mention of special burial places for "senior fathers," removed from the less august members of the monastery (11). At several Judean desert sites, both archaeological and textual distinctions have been found for the separation of monastic office-holders and lay monks (12). The presence of children adds further credence to this view, as the literature suggests they were often buried near the remains of venerated individuals (13).
To test this status hypothesis,
future analyses of stature will include metacarpal (hand) and metatarsal
(foot) length estimates (14), as well as reconstructions
from fragmentary long bones (15). This will
significantly enhance the sample size for stature estimation. In addition,
several measures of diet and disease stress will be analyzed to further
test the question of affluence (16). These
data will then be compared to those available for Byzantine skeletal collections
from the region.
1. W. BASS, Human Osteology, 26. Return
2. K. PEARSON, "On the Reconstruction of the Stature of Prehistoric Races", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 192A (1898), 169-244. Return
3. M. TROTTER and G. GLESER, "Estimation of Stature from Long Bones of American Whites and Negroes", AJPA 10 (1952), 463-514; M. TROTTER and G. GLESER, "A re-evaluation of Estimation Based on measurements of Stature Taken During Life and of Long Bones After Death", AJPA 16 (1958), 79-123; T. HOLLAND, "Brief Communication: Estimation of Adult Stature from the Calcaneus and Talus", AJPA 96 (1995), 315-320. Return
4. For complete lists of measurement criteria, see W. BASS, Human Osteology and J. SCHWARTZ, Skeleton Keys: An Introduction to Human Skeletal Morphology, Development and Analysis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), appendix G. No complete fibula were found, thus this long bone is excluded from the analyses. Return
5. B. ARENSBURG, The People in the Land of Israel from the Epipaleolithic to Present Times (Ph.D. dissertation, Tel Aviv University, 1973), 22. Return
HERSCHKOVITZ, R. YAKAR, C. TAITZ, S. WISH-BARATZ, A. PINHASOV, and B. RING,
"The Human Remains from the Byzantine Monastery at Khan el-Ahmar", Liber
Annus 43 (1993), 373-85; esp. 374. Return
7. B. ARENSBURG, The People, 22. Return
8. I. HERSCHKOVITZ, B. RING, Y. RAK, and B. ARENSBURG "Skeletal Remains From the Northern Church", in Excavations at Rehovot-in-the-Negev, Vol I: The Northern Church, by Y. Tsafrir, J. Patrich, R. Rosenthal-Heginbottom, I. Herschkovitz, and Y. Nevo. (Qedem, Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1988), 193-209, esp. 203. Return
9. B. ARENSBURG, "A Short Review of Paleopathology in the Middle East. Mitekufat Haeven", J. Isr. Prehist. Soc.18 (1985), 21-30. Return
10. V. FORMICOLA,
"Stature Reconstruction from Long Bones in Ancient Population Samples:
An Approach to the Problem of its Reliablity", AJPA 90 (1993), 351-8.
Formicola found male samples prone to greater heterogeneity than females,
which might also contribute to the standard deviation for the collection.
It should be noted however that the coefficient of variation (cv=4.0) fell
well within the range of acceptability for biological samples. Return
11. J. PATRICH and L. DI SENGI, "New Greek Inscriptions from the Monastery of Theoctistus in the Judean Desert", in D. Baraq et al., Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical, and Geographical Studies, Vol. 19, (Jerusalem: Is, 1987), 272-81; H. GOLDFUS, "The Monastery of St. Theoctistus", esp. 276-80, note #87. Return
12. Y. HIRSCHFELD, "Euthymius and his Monastery in the Judean Desert", LA 43 (1993), 339-71, especially 336-71; Y. MAGEN, "The Monastery of St. Martyrius at Maâale Adummim," In Y. Tsafrir, ed., Ancient Churches Revealed (Jerusalem, Israel Exploration Society: 1993), 170-96, esp., 178-180; H. GOLDFUS, "Khallat ed Danabiya: A Desert Monastery", in G. Bottini, L. DiSegni, and E Alliata, eds., Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land: New Discoveries (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1990), 227-44, esp. 240. Return
13. MAGEN, "The Monastery
of St. Martyrius", 181; D. CHITTY, "Excavation at the Monastery of St.
Euthymius, 1929", PEQ 62 (1930), 43-7 and 150-3; and "The Monastery of
St. Euthymius", PEQ 64 (1932), 188-203. Return
14. L. MEADOWS and R. JANTZ, "Estimation of Stature from Metacarpal Lengths", JFS 37 No. 1 (1992), 147-54; J. MUSGRAVE and N. HARNEJA, "The Estimation of Adult Stature from Metacarpal Bone Length", AJPA 48 (1978), 113-20. Return
15. T. HOLLAND, "Estimation of Adult Stature from Fragmentary Tibias", JFS 37 (1992), 1223-9; D. STEELE and T MCKERN, "A Method for Assessment of Maxiumum Long Bone Length and Living Signature from Fragmentary Long Bones", AJPA 31 (1969), 215-27. Return
16. Several analyses
related to this question are currently underway. For example, all
of the teeth have been cast for electron microscopic analysis of attrition
patterns related to dietary intake. Several measures of adult nutritional
intake are being measured such as cortical bone maintenance and porotic
hyperostosis. And, pathological indicators of occupational stress
are being studied. Furthermore, Dr. Blake Leyerle (University of
Notre Dame) is studying the historical record for comparable resources
related to these social issues. Return
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