Structural changes in the femur with the transition to agriculture on the Georgia coast

Christopher B. Ruff, Clark Spencer Larsen, Wilson C. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structural characteristics of the femur are compared in preagricultural (2200 B.C.–A.D. 1150) and agricultural (A.D. 1150–1550) subsistence strategy groups from the Georgia coast. Using an automated technique, cross‐sectional geometric properties used in structural analyses (areas, second moments of area) were determined at midshaft and distal to the lesser trochanter in 20 adults from each group. A significant decline in magnitude of almost every geometric property occurs in the agricultural group. The differences between groups are reduced but still significant for many properties after standardizing for bone length differences. In addition, a remodeling of the femoral cortex to one of relatively smaller medullary and subperiosteal diameter, as well as a more circular cross‐sectional shape, is characteristic of agricultural femora. Thus, while the relative cross‐sectional area of bone remains the same, the spatial distribution of bone area is different in the two groups. The results strongly suggest a relative reduction in mechanical loadings of the femur in the agricultural group, implying different levels and possibly types of activity involving the lower limb in the two groups. The data are also compared with similar data available for the Pecos Pueblo (agricultural) sample. The comparison indicates that types of activity may have been more similar in the two agricultural samples, but that general levels of activity were more similar in the Pecos Pueblo and Georgia coast preagricultural samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1984


  • Femur
  • Georgia coast
  • Mechanical loadings
  • Subsistence strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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