Developmental Defects in Ancient Context – Causations of Cleft Palate in the Athenian Agora
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This research looks at the infant cleft palates recently identified in the Athenian Agora. This assemblage provided the opportunity to expand the ways which bioarchaeology may study developmental defects which affect the skeleton. A biological, historical, and archaeological study was undertaken in order to analyze cleft palate in the archaeological record, and to understand and identify possible causation factors in the ancient environment. Based on this research, the prevalence of cleft palate in the Athenian Agora, estimated from modern perinatal infant mortality rates and cleft palate prevalence showed that the cleft palates in the Athenian Agora may have been the result of syndromic etiologies. The shape of the palate as well as deviations along the line of the cleft are discussed as possible support for a syndromic etiology of the infant cleft palates.