Pathological and normal variability of foot bones in osteological collections from Catalonia (Spain) and Lazio (Italy)

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


A wide number of factors can affect the structure of the bones in the foot. In bioarchaeology, few studies about foot anomalies include population comparisons and changes across time. We aimed to identify normal and pathological variability that affected the foot in the recent history of West Mediterranean populations. Thus, we analyzed change in occurrence of rare variants, pathological lesions, entheseal morphology, and their probable causes. We studied 518 pairs of skeletonized feet dated from the 2nd–20th centuries CE, from Catalonia (Spain) and the region of Lazio (Italy). Moreover, a Neolithic series from Oman has been analyzed for contrast. We found that calcaneal spur, hypertrophic peroneal trochlea of calcaneus, periosteal reaction of talar neck, alteration of articular surface to lateral cuneiform, displaced talar neck to medial plane, osteophytes in cuneiform-navicular joint, fused phalanges, and forefoot eburnation showed significant differences among countries. Contrasting by countries and dates, we noticed an increase in the frequencies of these variables from Spain over the centuries. Conversely, there are no temporal differences among the Italian series. The period encompassing the 10th–19th centuries CE demonstrated the highest differences between countries. Lifestyle, occupations, footwear, and geography could be the origin of variability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2021


  • foot diseases
  • paleopathology
  • population studies
  • skeletal variability


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