Archaeological site Tuchengzi in Inner Mongolia, China presents a rich assemblage of human skeletal remains from the Warring States period (475-221 BCE). The assemblage most likely represents an early incarnation of the semi-military and semi-farming settlement system known as Tuntian. The Tuchengzi Tuntian settlement is believed to have been established by residents of the Zhao State to defend its northern border. This study focuses on osteological and palaeopathological examinations of 64 human skeletal remains from the site with an aim to better understand this unique population. Data from non-specific indicators of stress and dental pathology indicate the population suffered normal levels of systemic stresses when compared with other contemporary groups in the region, suggesting a normal farming community. However, abnormal age profile (fewer subadults and fewer elders) and a skewed sex ratio (3 males to 1 female) seem to reveal a possible military component to the population. However, low trauma prevalence, multiple cases of ankylosing spondylitis, and severe joint disease seem to imply a settlement that was involved in very infrequent combat. This study demonstrates the usefulness of osteoarchaeological profiling of human remains to better understand skeletal populations and past lifeways.
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