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Abstract

The understanding of older adult life experiences is deficient when compared to younger adults and children in the archaeological record. Research has been devoted toward aging techniques and studies of osteoarthritis, but there are few discussions describing senescence, the cumulative process of aging, in the past. Most research includes the oldest cohort (45 years and above) within the broad category of adults, but it is useful to look at this demographic separately. Skeletal remains were analyzed from the site of Tombos (ancient Nubia) dated to the New Kingdom and the Napatan Periods (~1400‒650 BC). The focus of the analysis was on the pathological conditions and how this cohort’s life experiences contribute to what is known about senescence today. It was hypothesized that individuals who reached extreme old age (45+) would exhibit low signs of pathological and nutritional stress due to their abilities to escape chronic disease and disability. Results show there was a mix of disease survivors and disease escapers from the sample. Most individuals were in their 70s (39.1%), but age distributions were relatively equal among the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 80s. Many individuals were robust and displayed low frequencies of nutritional or infectious lesions (less than 14%). All individuals had some form of arthritis, but there was a wide range in severity. Two case studies are presented to detail disease survivors.

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