Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 1-1 (May 2009)E. Smits; J. van der Plicht: Mesolithic and Neolithic human remains in the Netherlands: physical anthropological and stable isotope investigations
7 Discussion and conclusions

7.3 Health

The skeletal remains from the Ypenburg population are the most informative on the topic of health in comparison to the other groups in the Lower Rhine Basin. The pathological traits show a variety, of which degeneration of the joints and the spine is the most common. This can be related to a sedentary lifestyle and physical labour (Baetsen 2002).

For comparison the information on stature of various Mesolithic and Neolithic groups is presented in table 7 (after Formicola & Gianecchini 1999). The values of the Ypenburg population are comparable to those of Skateholm, Téviec and Hoëdic. The data from Hardinxveld-Giessendam and Schipluiden resemble those of Bandkeramik farmers. Although data are sparse we can deduce that the stature at Ypenburg was rather low compared to several other Mesolithic and Neolithic European groups (table 7). Conclusions on the health status of the populations of Hardinxveld, Swifterbant and Schipluiden cannot be made due to the restricted data. There are, however, several indications of the health of the Ypenburg population to be able to draw tentative conclusions. These are a rather high infant mortality, low stature, and skeletal markers of physical stress. Although fertility was indicative of a growing population this leads us to question whether living conditions were as favourable, as has been suggested by the zooarchaeologists (De Vries in Koot et al. 2008).


Table 7 Stature of Mesolithic and Neolithic populations (data partly derived from Formicola & Giannecchini 1999).