Re-evaluating scurvy in the Irish famine

Historical records from the 18th and 19th century document cases of scurvy at a level that is unsupported by archaeological evidence. Scurvy is a nutritional condition that results from vitamin C deficiency and it commonly occurs during times of famine. The characteristic bone lesions formed upon the re-introduction of vitamin C into the diet have long been used by archaeologists to identify the disease in skeletal remains. This post explains how recent improvements in bioarchaeology technology and techniques have been used to identify the disease in victims of the Irish Famine (1845-1852) and suggests that early studies showing lower rates of scurvy may have missed signs of the disease.

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