ust like today, the late medieval period knew many challenges caused by climate change and diseases. The Little Ice Age, starting in the fourteenth century, and the famines and diseases that followed left their marks on past European populations, which are still visible today in the human skeletal remains. The influences of these potential stressors on human skeletons from the late medieval population from Ypres, Belgium, is assessed via stable isotope and osteological analyses. Ypres, rapidly growing into one of the biggest cities in Europe during the thirteenth century, was struck by social polarisation, conflicts, proletarianization, and famines. As a result, the booming city once known for its cloth industry, started to decline during the fourteenth century and provides a good opportunity to study the dynamics of densely populated urban centers during such tumultuous times. Preliminary results from the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes (δ13C & δ15N) analyses seem to indicate some levels of physiological of stress with higher δ13C & δ15N values observed in some of the individual’s ribs compared to the femurs, suggesting they may have suffered from malnutrition or even starvation. The stable isotope results occasionally match pathological changes. One individual in particular displayed enamel hypoplasia, cribra orbitalia, and vitamin D deficiency and had high δ15N values in the ribs (14.1‰), reinforcing the possibility that inhabitants of Ypres suffered from starvation. This presentation provides more insights into how bioarchaeology can help research the health status in Ypres during its rise and decline in the late medieval period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEAA 2022: [Re]Integration
Place of PublicationPrague
PublisherEuropean Association of Archaeologists
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)978-80-88441-02-1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
EventEuropean Association of Archaeologists Annual Conference: [Re]Integration - ELTE Faculty of Humanities Campus (Trefort-kert) , Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 31 Aug 20223 Sep 2022
Conference number: 28


ConferenceEuropean Association of Archaeologists Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleEAA
Internet address


  • medieval
  • stable isotopes
  • health
  • diet
  • osteology
  • starvation

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