Relationships between lower limb cross-sectional geometry and mobility: the case of a Neolithic sample from Italy

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2008 Oct;137(2):188-200. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.20855.


This study investigates the relationships between lower limb robusticity and mobility in a Neolithic sample (LIG) from Italy (6th millennium BP). This study tests the hypothesis that the high femoral robusticity previously observed in the LIG sample is a consequence of the subsistence strategy (i.e., high mobility on uneven terrain) practiced by LIG. Cross-sectional geometric properties of the femur and tibia at midshaft of LIG (eight males and eight females) were collected and results compared to Late Upper Paleolithic (12 males, five females), Mesolithic (24 males, 8 females), and Eneolithic (28 males, 17 females) samples from other sites throughout Europe. The results show that the LIG sample does not show the reduction of lower limb robusticity that is characteristic of the Eneolithic sample, but rather that the LIG sample is most similar to the earlier, highly mobile, populations. This high level of robusticity in the LIG sample could reflect both their pastoral subsistence strategy combined with a rugged environment, as well as their earlier temporal position within the Neolithic. The results of this study further point to significant variation in male-female mobility patterns in the region, also possibly related to pastoral behavioral patterns.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / history
  • Anthropometry
  • Female
  • Femur / anatomy & histology*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology*