The New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology
Associate Professor Department of Anthropology Queens College and The Graduate Center City University of New York
B.S. 1992, Moscow State University M.S. 1994, Moscow State University Ph.D. 2002, University of Missouri-Columbia
Tel: (718) 997-5529
Fax: (718) 997-2885
A principal emphasis in my research is on how changes through time in human behavior transform patterns of disease distribution and severity and affect community health in different populations. In this context, technological innovations affecting diet are of particular importance. Increasing dependence on cereals with the transition to agriculture, along with greater reliance on soft, thoroughly cooked foods that accompanied advances in pottery-making, have been implicated in the spread of iron deficiency anemia and scurvy, as well as deterioration in oral health. Overcrowding and poor hygiene in early farming settlements may have contributed to the spread of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and syphilis. Improving our specific knowledge of how interactions between disease, human culture, and environment played out in the past can help us develop better tools for understanding the ongoing co-evolution of humans and disease.
By examining skeletons from archaeological contexts for a wide range of disease indicators, in concert with chemical analyses of bone samples, I assess human diet and nutrition, pathogen and nutrition related illnesses, intensities of workloads, and the incidence of violence. I conduct my present fieldwork in north-central China, studying recently excavated human skeletons, as well as performing basic cleaning, necessary conservation procedures, and the reconstruction of fragmented remains. The collections I have examined range in time from the earliest farming communities (Neolithic, ca 9,000 years ago) to the Han dynastic period (206 BC-220 AD).
Pechenkina EA, Ma X, Eng J, Shoichet R, Wei D, Zhang Q, Li X, Fan W, Zhu H. 2009. Reconstructing behavior in ancient China from human skeletal remains. The SAA Archaeological Record 9:36-39,14.
Pechenkina EA. 2008. Comment to paper by AK Wilbur, AW Farnbach, KJ Knudson, and JE Buikstra. Diet, tuberculosis, and the paleopathological record. Current Anthropology 49:980.
Pechenkina EA, Vradenburg JA, Benfer RA Jr, Farnum JF (2007b) Skeletal biology of the Central Peruvian Coast: consequences of changing population density and progressive dependence on maize agriculture. In Ancient Health: Skeletal Indicators of Agricultural and Economic Intensification. Edited by Mark Nathan Cohen and Gillian M. M. Crane-Kramer. University Florida of Press. pp 93-112.
Pechenkina EA, Benfer, RA, Jr, Ma Xiaolin. (2007) Diet and health in the Neolithic of the Wei and Yellow River Basins, Northern China. In Ancient Health: Skeletal Indicators of Agricultural and Economic Intensification. Edited by Mark Nathan Cohen and Gillian M. M. Crane-Kramer. University Florida of Press. pp 255-272.
Pechenkina EA and Delgado M. 2006. Dimensions of health and social structure in the Early Intermediate Period cemetery at Villa El Salvador, Peru. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 131: 218-235.
Pechenkina EA, Ambrose SH, Ma X, and Benfer RA. Jr. 2005. Reconstructing northern Chinese Neolithic subsistence practices by isotopic analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 32: 1176-1189.
Pechenkina EA and Benfer RA Jr. 2002. Exostosis on Mandible and Maxilla Among Neolithic Agriculturists from Northern China: an Interplay of Environmental Factors. Homo 53: 112–130.
Pechenkina EA, Benfer RA Jr., and Zhijun W. 2002. Diet and Health Changes with the Intensification of Millet Agriculture at the End of Chinese Neolithic. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 117: 15-36.
Pechenkina EA, Benfer RA. Jr., Vershoubaskaya GG, and Kozlov AI. 2000. Heritability of Fluctuating Asymmetry of Dermatoglyphic Traits. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 111: 531-543.