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Home arrow Health arrow Bodies and Lives in Ancient America: Health Before Columbus


For the title of the book, we wanted to acknowledge two influential scholars who came before us and taught us well: Rosemary Joyce, for her groundbreaking book Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives: Sex, Gender and Archaeology (New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 2008), and Wenda Trevathan, for her trailblazing book Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women’s Health (New York, NY: Oxford, 2010). We are also indebted to the bioarchaeologists who have been publishing on health in America for the last several decades, setting a high bar for data collection and analysis. Our gratitude goes out to George Armelagos, Clark Larsen, Phil Walker, Jane Buikstra, Della Cook, and their generations of students who continue their work in areas such as the California coast, the American Southwest, the Mis- sissippian region, and the Georgia Bight. The idea for this book began in 1991 while one of us (Martin) was a resident scholar at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe. After percolating for 25 years, the book came to fruition with the support of the Lincy Foundation and Chris Hudgins in the dean’s office at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Working on this book made us appreciate where we are in our own life histories and the people and animals around us that make our particular moment in time and space not unlike those of people who lived hundreds of years ago in the very places we live today. They lived, they loved, they worked, they suffered, and they experienced extraordinary, ordinary lives. We dedicate this book to those original people who made the U.S. their home long before Columbus arrived.

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