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Reading the Bones of La Florida - Essay Example

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This study presents an analysis of the article “Reading the Bones of La Florida” by Clark Spencer Larsen in which the author explores the activities of Native Americans after the arrivals of Europeans, specifically Christopher Columbus settlement in 1492 in the Caribbean…
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Reading the Bones of La Florida
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"Reading the Bones of La Florida"

Download file to see previous pages According to the research findings, it can, therefore, be said that Clark Spencer Larsen explores the engagement of Southeast Spanish missions in La Florida, identifying the cultural and traditional diet and work habits of the natives prior to the settlement of Europeans. Larsen capitalizes on the recent development and advancement of bio-archeology to present his arguments concerning health deterioration of the natives. Because human tissues contain stable isotopes such as nitrogen and carbon elements, bioarcheologists may utilize this information to reconstruct and determine the diets of ancient humans. Larsen revisits findings of carbon three and carbon four chemical signatures, different ratios of carbon 12 and carbon 13 isotopes, and different ratios of nitrogen 14 and nitrogen 15 isotopes in human beings to argue that the Native Americans on La Florida experienced a change of diet after the settlement of Europeans. Larsen focuses on research evidence on the chronological and geographical variations from Margret Schoeninger, Nikolaas van der Merwe, and Lynnet Norr concerning the difference in diet. The article emphasizes on three tribes: the Guale, the Timucua, and the Apalachee, all served by Spanish missions in coastal Georgia and Florida. Larsen builds a strong case against the change of diet as a major cause of health deterioration, providing the readers with bioarcheological bone evidence. Furthermore, he analyzes the working habits and living conditions, as well as the occurrence of rampant infections and easy onward transmission as other propagating factors to the poor health of the native Indians. With respect to the work habits, Larsen examines the working bones in the human skeleton. He argues that the human skeleton responds to physical activities in their entire lives, changing the structure and shape of the individual’s bones in order to respond to the mechanical forces acting upon them. Larsen further argues that the body weight or the pull of muscles triggers cellular activities that cause remodeling of the skeleton. This is in accordance with his findings from the La Florida Bioarchaeology Project. Larsen’s arguments and evidence ventures into the world of forensic science, particularly bio-molecular archeology in analyzing and studying DNA traces in ancient bones. The relatively new study of DNA focuses on fossilized teeth and bones. Moreover, adopted methods form immunology, analytical chemistry, and protein biochemistry enables scientists to investigate and analyze the fate of individual human communities. With particular emphasis has been the study of agriculture invention in human populations, diseases, and health. The great agricultural revolution of Mesopotamia that led to humans planting food crops and domesticating animals had a profound impact on human history. Nonetheless, the traditional assumption has been that this transition from a hunter-gatherer and foraging diet to another based on crops would enhance the health of humans. This is where Larsen begins his arguments, stating that the revolution had both positive and negative impacts. Larsen refers to the agricultural revolution as an environmental catastrophe that led to the decrease in the quality of life for many human populations, with emphasis on La Florida. It is evident that the lives of Native Americans living in La Florida had an impact, but concluding that the revolution had similar impacts in other communities occupying other areas may be incorrect. Interestingly, critiques of industrial revolution express similar sentiments, arguing that the revolution minimizes the quality of human life. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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