Paleodemography of the Libben Site, Ottawa County, Ohio

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Science  21 Oct 1977:
Vol. 198, Issue 4314, pp. 291-293
DOI: 10.1126/science.198.4314.291


The Libben site, a Late Woodland ossuary and occupation site from the Great Black Swamp of northern Ohio has yielded a well-preserved skeletal sample of 1327 articulated individuals. The outstanding preservation and completeness of the site and the utilization of an exhaustive aging methodology make this the largest and most comprehensively censused North American prehistoric cemetery. Survivorship data indicate a robust, successful population. Life expectancy at birth was 20 years. Among adults, male mortality was consistently higher than female, a condition possibly related to high interpersonal and intergroup aggression. Infant mortality was generally low, and a general hypothesis concerning the elevation of infant mortality and the simultaneous depression of adult mortality among aboriginal peoples after European contact is suggested.