Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Larsen, Clark Spencer

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Medical anthropology--Georgia--Saint Catherines Island; Indians of North America--Georgia--Saint Catherines Island--Health and hygiene; Stress (Physiology)


This research addresses episodic stress in the fifteenth-sixteenth century Guale Indian mission population at Santa Catalina de Guale. Previous research has shown a high correlation between stress and agricultural lifeway. In addition to stress induced by an agricultural economy dependent primarily on corn, the European population introduced previously unknown diseases into the indigenous population. These diseases in Spanish Florida, combined with Spanish taxation, reduced both the available labor force for producing agricultural resources and the resources themselves. It can be expected, therefore, that the Guale population during the initial period of European contact suffered further declines in health. Although several indicators of stress have been utilized in bioarchaeological studies, one of the most dependable is enamel hypoplasia. Hypoplasias have been widely used as stress indicators, and can be assigned to specific ages of occurrence using known tooth formation and eruption chronologies. Comparisons of the mission population teeth are made with those of earlier, precontact populations excavated on St. Catherines Island and a contemporary, non-mission population located ten miles from the island. Hypoplasias should be reduced or absent for these earlier populations. Although dietary deficiency is known to cause enamel hypoplasia, attempts to directly link this etiology during a specific age with hypoplastic events have not been successful. Attempts to correlate disease and hypoplasia in causal relationship, although successful in laboratory studies, have been less successful in non-laboratory observations. Consequently, most researchers recognize hypoplasia as a general indicator of nutritional or disease stress. Previous research on enamel growth and enamel hypoplasia is summarized and compared to data from Santa Catalina de Guale. The geographical setting of St. Catherines Island is presented, as well as the ethnography and ethnohistory of the Guale and neighboring groups. Of particular interest are ethnohistoric descriptions of subsistence technology and available subsistence resources. A final discussion relates the evidence of general health of the Guale population to the larger question of changing lifeways with regard to aggregate populations, and European contact in the New World.


Bibliography: pages [85]-105.


iv, 118 pages




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