Skeletons recovered from these early Afro-European sites indicate that, compared with Late Paleolithic peoples, who were typically nomadic hunters and regionally sporadic gatherers, overall health was good. This deduction is based on overall stature and maximum skull base height, thought to reflect sufficient amounts of calories and protein for growth in all developmental stages. Teeth in these specimens are typically present (if not lost postmortem) and are in good shape, demonstrating access to adequate amounts of protein in later developmental stages.
When farming arrives, human skeletal profiles change. It is obvious that populations have increased twenty- to fiftyfold in some areas. Skeletons recovered indicate that stature does not seem to be affected; farmers are just as tall as their hunter-gatherer ancestors. However, the preponderance of cereal and the lack of the important amino acids provided by red meat in their diet take their toll. Dimensions of skull base height decrease; dimensions of long bone shaft decrease; and teeth are in very poor health. Endemic disease seems to be typical in farming communities. This may reflect the fact that, while overall populations might be healthy, the overwhelming numbers of individuals generate novel and numerous pathological pathways not generally encountered in hunter-gather communities. On the other hand, farming economies do provide for healthier females, mainly because they do not have to endure stressful periods during child-bearing months traveling with groups as they move in search of food. Women typically maintain greater longevity in farming communities and hence, more opportunities to bear children.
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