Human Evolution

, 8:235 | Cite as

The Shanidar cave Proto-Neolithic human population: Aspects of demography and paleopathology

  • A. Agelarakis


This paper presents bio-anthropological data concerning the Shanidar cave, Proto-Neolithic, Homo sapiens population at the dawn of sedentary life in SW Asia. It was proposed that changes in human organizational systems and perceived environmental contexts, as reflected by ecofacts and tool assemblages, indicating the intensification of harvesting of resources during this Proto-Neolithic cultural component, could have altered existing interrelationships between pathogens, vectors, and human hosts.

The individuals comprising the skeletal collection represent both sex subcategories and most age subgroups. Further, no evidence of bio-distance has been documented between them judging from morphometrics and mensurational analyses.

Paleopathological investigations of the skeletal record revealed the presence of infectious diseases, lesions of the joints, lesions of the jaws and teeth, benign tumors, hemopoietic and metabolic disorders, as well as severe traumatic conditions. Bone isotopic testing for investigations of dietary patterns indicated a diet heavily based on C3 plants, while the animal protein component was calculated to an intake of less than 10%.

The paleopathological profile in conjunction with the archeometric studies, and the rest of the archaeological record present significant reflections of the lives of these Proto-Neolithic people in SW Asia, during this transitional time period.

Key words

Shanidar Homo sapiens demography paleopathology Human condition 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Agelarakis
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of AnthropologyAdelphi UniversityGarden CityUSA

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