Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 12:33-45 (2018)

The case for signs of joint hypermobility on disarticulated human bones

Theya Molleson

Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum,
London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom

Abstract: Extended articular surfaces together with supra-condylar imprints at joints are identified as being extensions of the range of a joint movement in response to specific activity undertaken from an early age. They enhance and control the range of joint movement. Rarely, on skeletons recovered from archaeological contexts, an extra-large extended articulation indicates the limit of an extreme range where two bones of the joint made contact and arrested the movement of one over another. They are rarely observed even where stress activities were widely practised. It is suggested that these individuals had a pre-disposing physique--joint hypermobility. Hypermobility syndromes cannot be diagnosed on disarticulated skeletal remains since the full extent of joint mobility cannot be assessed, making standard diagnostic criteria inapplicable. If, however, extra-large extended articulations and bone imprints can be considered as additional signs of joint hypermobility, that assessments of joint hypermobility from historical samples may be feasible.

Key words: joint hypermobility syndrome; Neolithic; extended joint articulation; bone imprint; stop facets

Received 15 June 2018; accepted 14 November 2018; published online 12 December 2018.

Return to Volume 12:2018