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Dissertation

Life in Transition

This research investigates the impact of socioeconomic developments on the physical condition of medieval populations in Holland and Zeeland between AD 1000 and 1600 through the analysis of human skeletal remains from three archaeological sites.

Author
Rachel Schats
Date
21 November 2016
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Leiden University news article

In a brief period of time, the regionof Holland and Zeeland went from being scarcely populated to an area characterised by expanding urban centres and flourishing trade systems. These large scale developments had an impact on the daily lives of medieval people. Focusing on several skeletal indicators of disease, activity, and diet, this research has studied the physical consequences of medieval socioeconomic developments from a hitherto unexplored perspective.

Although differences are observed between the skeletal collections, the key finding is the absence of a marked distinction between town and country. The noted variations in skeletal indicators of disease, activity, and diet are minor and do not support the traditional idea that towns and villages in medieval Holland and Zeeland had become worlds apart. While urban living is frequently associated with negative consequences, this is not supported by this research. Especially in terms of disease, a more nuanced view is necessary. While the risks appear to have been different, one living environment cannot be considered better than the other.