Project 1: Osteoarchaeological perspectives on slave health and nutrition

Fellow:  Erna Johannesdottir
Supervision:  Dr. Kate Robson-Brown
Host Institution:  Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol
Duration:  3 years – starting from 1 June 2012

This project will use the latest osteoarchaeological research methods that can provide new data on the demography, nutritional status and health of enslaved Africans; in order to gain new insights into their physical quality of life and the physical effects of enslavement.

By drawing on various skeletal samples and collections associated with the African diaspora and transatlantic slave trade, we plan to i) assess and document the state of preservation of the skeletal material, before ii) compiling age and sex profiles and iii) recording any pathologies or signs of trauma that could be indicative of nutritional deficiencies, diseases or violent abuse.

In addition, we plan to iv) assess biological ancestry of each individual, using a combination of anthropometric and anthroposcopic techniques. Finally, we also plan to v) collect data on dental modification, as it might yield information on the captives’ ethnic origins.

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