A new methodology to estimate flat foot in skeletal remains – The example of mediterranean collections

Eduardo Saldías*, Assumpció Malgosa, Xavier Jordana, Cristina Martínez-Labarga, Alfredo Coppa, Mauro Rubini, Bernardo Vila, Albert Isidro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Flat feet (pes planus) are considered a postural defect caused by the collapse of the longitudinal arch, producing complete or near-complete contact of the sole of the foot with the ground. Pes planus has been well-studied in clinical lit-erature and paleoanthropology but has not been approached extensively in bioarchaeology. The main difficulty is related to the diagnosis of this pathology based exclusively on bone remains. In this work, we propose a metric and morphological method to discriminate flat foot in dry bones. Thus, we studied 390 pairs of adult feet in a fair state of preservation from archaeological contexts from Spain, Italy, and Oman. Morphological variability, angles, and dimensions of both the normal bones and the bones displaying flat foot characteristics were analyzed. We found a correlation between the presence of flat foot and some morphological and metric features, mainly in the subtalar and Chopart joints. These results are expressed through a combination of morphological and metric variables, which are useful to discriminate between these two groups. No markedly significant differences of flat foot frequencies between the Spanish and Italian series were found across cen-turies. However, we noticed a notable increase of the prevalence of flat foot in the contemporary collection, possibly due to the consequences of a rise in life expectancy and modern styles of footwear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-292
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2021


  • Archaeological collections
  • Foot dimensions
  • Longitudinal arch
  • Pes planus


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