A total of 469 individuals are sampled from three Late Archaic (ca. 3000 BP) and four Late Prehistoric (ca. 800–400 BP) Ohio Valley populations and are evaluated for health-related biological indicators.
These samples exhibit generally low frequencies of pathological conditions. Conditions associated with normal wear and tear (degenerative joint disease and, to some extent, trauma) are age associated and are of similar frequencies and severity in the samples. Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) is associated with growth depression in the samples, and although the samples exhibit a relatively large average stature, the somewhat smaller stature in Late Prehistoric samples is likely due to their higher frequency of LEH. The greatest difference in pathological conditions among the samples is in the increased incidence of acquired dental pathologies in the maize agricultural Late Prehistoric samples.
In the 2,500-year time span from which these populations were sampled, the overall differences in health indicators, aside from dental health, appear to be small and due to the generally similar biocultural conditions throughout the period.
The culture-historical record of native populations of the middle and upper Ohio Valley is divided into five phases: Paleo–Indian (ca. 12,000–6000 bp), Archaic (ca. 6000–3000 bp), Woodland (ca. 3000–1100 bp), Late Prehistoric (ca. 1100– 400 bp), and Proto-historic (400–200 bp).While a broad outline of the technological, subsistence, and organizational features of populations within these phases has been constructed, at present, biocultural studies are possible only for populations in and following the later part of the Archaic phase.