Differential Diagnosis of Pathology: Postclassic Maya from Ka’kabish, Belize
Grant Smith, Jocelyn Williams, Helen Haines
Located in northern Belize, the ancient Maya site of Ka’kabish had a long occupational history spanning the Middle Formative period (800-600 BC) into the Postclassic period (900-1500 AD). Excavations at Ka’kabish revealed eight plazas and courtyards, the largest plaza being Group D. To the south of Group D were several chultuns, or subterranean chambers, which functioned as burial sites for the occupants of Ka’kabish; all chultuns contained multiple interments. For my master's thesis, I was tasked with examining the material from the chultuns, identifying MNI and investigating diet and health using both stable isotope and osteological analyses. As is typical of skeletal material in the Maya area, preservation of the human remains from the chultuns is poor and the burials are commingled. Based on the osteological examination, I determined an MNI of 28 individuals—18 adults, 5 subadults and 5 neonate/perinates. The poor preservation and fragmentary nature of the commingled assemblage made the identification of sex and pathological conditions difficult and impossible for most of the skeletal material. In one chultun, however, the preservation was very good and it was possible to observe pathological changes on numerous skeletal elements corresponding to at least two adult individuals. Lesions consistent with osteoarthritis, infection, metabolic disease and congenital defects are present. The pathological conditions are quite variable and do not clearly correspond to a systemic disease or a single etiology. The purpose of this poster is to illustrate the lesions, present differential diagnoses, and discuss possible impacts of these diseases.
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Images (clicking on image will take you to large version of file)
Figure 1. Adult Sacrum: Shape abnormality, absence of S3-S5 (dorsal view), compared to normal sacrum
Fig 2. Adult Sacrum: Shape abnormality, absence of S3-S5, ventral view
Fig 3. Adult Sacrum: Shape abnormality, superior view
Fig 4. Adult Sacrum: Shape abnormality, absence of S3-S5, inferior view
Fig 5. Adult Sacrum: Shape abnormality, S1 inferior view
Fig 6.T11 Anterior
Fig 6. T11, T12, L1 Anterior
Fig 6. T11, T12, L1 Superior
Fig 6. T11, T12, L1, L2 Anterior
Fig 6. T12 Inferior
Fig 6. T12, L1, L2, L3, L5 Inferior
Fig 6. Thoracic Comparison
Fig 6. Thoracic Superior
Fig 6. Thoracic Inferior
Fig 6. Thoracic Vertebrae (T11)
Fig 6. Thoracic Vertebrae (T12)
Fig 7. Adult Left Humeri: Bowed/Swollen
Fig 7. Humerus Comparison 1
Fig 7. Humerus Comparison 2
Fig 8. Adult Left Radii Comparison
Fig 8. Adult Left Radii Comparison 2
Fig 8. Left Radii Comparison Mid
Fig 8. Left Radii
Fig 9. Adult Left Fibula
Fig 9. Adult Left Fibula, Distal
Fig 9. Adult Right Fibula
Fig 9. Adult Right Fibula Midshaft
Fig 9. Adult Right Fibula Midshaft Closeup
Fig 9. Adult Right Fibula Proximal