Harris Lines as Indicators of Physiological Stress in the Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal
Pathways Volume 4 Cover: photo depicts stone path with gate


harris lines
physiological stress

How to Cite

Michelman, L. (2023). Harris Lines as Indicators of Physiological Stress in the Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal. Pathways, 4(1), 68–73. https://doi.org/10.29173/pathways44


This article is a plain language summary of a master’s thesis completed in 2022 through the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan. The goal of this research was to study Harris lines (HL; transverse lines in human and animal long bones that are only visible through X-rays) in the skeletal remains of hunter-gatherers from the Middle Holocene (~9000–3000 years BP) Baikal region of the Russian Federation. HL have often been associated with stress events such as malnutrition or disease in early life. Thus, this thesis expected to highlight differences in the lived stress experiences of two distinct cultural periods from the region which had already been shown in previous studies on stress. Individuals 25 years and younger at time of death from two cemetery populations dating to the Early Neolithic (EN; 7560–6660 years BP) and one from the Late Neolithic (LN; 6060–4970 years BP) were examined for HL. The data was then compared between EN and LN individuals to determine if one population experienced greater stress than the other based on higher HL counts. This thesis demonstrated that HL are not irrefutably tied to stress in EN and LN populations from the Cis-Baikal and HL are not reliable determinants of how often or how many periods of stress they experienced during development. This thesis also challenged ongoing critiques in the study of HL, including image capture methods, to facilitate future research and discussion relating to HL.



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