|28 January 2019
Bronze Age Mongolia
Assuming that early nomadic pastoralists would have been healthier than sedentary people, archaeologists analysed the skeletal remains of 25 individuals excavated from burial mounds in northern Mongolia dating mostly to the late Bronze Age, about 3500 to 2700 years ago.
Little is known about the people who inhabited the Mongolian steppe around 4450 to 2650 years ago during the Bronze Age. Some modern Mongolians remain nomadic, but researchers didn't know when the tradition started.
The bones show very little evidence of inflammatory lesions indicative of infectious disease, or signs of rickets, scurvy, or other diseases resulting from malnutrition. Lack of evidence for both infectious and non-communicable diseases, along with the patterns of dental pathology indicate a group of people who experienced few health problems and little stress.
Types of trauma and evidence of degenerative joint disease are suggestive of horseback riding and interpersonal violence: broken noses, ribs, and legs - common injuries in assaults or when falling from horses.
The findings are consistent with a traditional pastoral existence where people live in small groups, rely on a protein-rich diet, and use animals for transportation.
Edited from Homo (November 2018), Science Magazine (8 January 2019)
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