Testing the Iron Deficiency Anemia Hypothesis using p-XRF
One controversy within the field of bioarchaeology revolves around theories that describe what environmental factors and illnesses could be causing cribra orbitalia (CO) and porotic hyperostosis (PH). These two pathological conditions, which are identified by porosities on the human cranium, are used by bioarchaeologists to estimate the health of archaeological remains. In the past, iron deficiency anemia (IDA) was widely believed to be causing these conditions. A range of factors, such as parasitic infections and lack of iron through dietary consumption, cause IDA. Because of the hypothesis connecting CO and PH to IDA, archaeological remains with visible porosities have had their life history inferred upon through our understanding of IDA. Recent research has refuted the IDA hypothesis and has shown support for other anemia types like megaloblastic anemia. These two conditions have been used and will be used in future research to estimate life history, therefore it is crucial to understand what factors indeed cause these conditions. Bioarchaeologists use invaluable samples from the archaeological record, and current research methods used to assess the IDA hypothesis destroy samples. However, given its multiple positive characteristics, p-XRF has the capability of expanding research, while keeping samples intact. P-XRF uses photons to measure naturally occurring electron volt differences found between elements. To test the applicability of p-XRF in this context, a visual analysis will first score the degree of each condition found on sample crania using standard methods, while p-XRF technology will directly determine if iron element concentration differences exist between samples. Data will be analyzed through a T-test to assess the probability of a difference in element concentrations being found within our samples while coinciding with pathology and its degree. Results will support or refute the IDA hypothesis, and the effectiveness of this research method for future use evaluating the IDA anemia hypothesis.
Maya, E. (2020). Testing the Iron Deficiency Anemia Hypothesis using p-XRF. Retrieved from https://digscholarship.unco.edu/mcnair/1