OBJECTIVE: This study examines the evidence of three skeletal markers of childhood health that leave permanent observable changes in the adult skeleton during two climate events, the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA) that occurred in the medieval period (1050-1536 CE).
MATERIAL: A total of 241 adult skeletons from the Danish medieval period were included.
METHODS: Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) was examined macroscopically. Harris lines (HL) and infectious middle ear disease (IMED) were examined from CT imaging. The skeletons were segregated by the mortuary pattern of arm position that coincidentally changes between the MWP to the LIA.
RESULTS: LEH and IMED increase in frequency from the MWP to the LIA while there is a reverse trend for HL.
SIGNIFICANCE: This is the first study that examines childhood health as reflected on skeletal remains of adults using a combination of CT imaging and macroscopic examination for temporal changes in the medieval period.
LIMITATIONS: The study did not include any sub-adults due to limitation of methods, i.e. the method of IMED is not yet developed to assess sub-adults. Neither was time-of-occurrence for the skeletal marker included as there is conflicting information from different methods for HL and neither has it been developed yet for IMED.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH: A sample of sub-adults from both time periods could be compared by sub-adult mortality, as well as for differences in the timing of skeletal age markers.