Manufactured Bodies: The Impact of Industrialisation on London Health

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Manufactured Bodies: The Impact of Industrialisation on London Health

October 22, 2020 @ 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Manufactured Bodies: The Impact of Industrialisation on London Health

Lecture by Jelena Bekvalac FSA

Industrialisation has been one of the most influential changes in history, affecting and shaping people’s environment and lives, physically and socially with lasting consequences. With the award of the Rosemary Green Grant from the City Of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT) it was possible for an innovative bioarchaeological collaborative project to examine for the first time through large scale British archaeological human skeletal assemblages and the application of modern medical imaging the tangible impact of industrialisation to the lives and health of Londoners.

The project examined the skeletal remains of over 2,000 adult males and females of all social status from the pre-Industrial and Industrial period from areas within London and Non-Metropolitan locations to enable a comparison for providing a means to gauge the impact of Industrialisation on London itself. Highlighting as well that the actual process of industrialisation was not uniform throughout the country and as such the comparison with the Non-Metropolitan assemblages enabled better capturing of the effects of living within the urbanised environs of London. The associated archaeological and historical research evidence of the physical locations allowed for the skeletal data being placed in the appropriate environmental context.

A total of twenty two archaeological sites were identified for combining osteological analysis and radiographic analysis for detecting skeletal diseases, of which a number are not possible to detect with the naked eye alone. With the application of digital radiography of selected bones and computed tomography (CT) scanning it provided a means for further expanding our knowledge of diseases and examining the curated collections in a new way to enhance further the importance of them for ongoing academic and public interest. The resultant data from the project has enabled a synthesis of large scale data, notably with the comparison of post medieval assemblages not previously done and the wider impact up to the present day on how our health has changed as a result of industrialisation

The project has produced an exciting resource of over 16,000 digital radiographs, CT scans and 3D models of selected bones showcasing the breadth and range of pathologies and trauma observed. The findings from the research allows for an ongoing conversation on areas pertinent to the present day discussing occupational hazards, pollution, cancer, obesity and an ageing population.

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October 22, 2020
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
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Society of Antiquaries of London
Burlington House, Piccadilly
London, W1J 0BE United Kingdom
020 7479 7080


Society of Antiquaries of London
020 7479 7080
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