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Skeletons Reveal Hardships of London’s Industrial Poor

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

London cemetery skeletonLONDON, ENGLAND—Excavation of an early nineteenth-century cemetery in southwest London has revealed evidence that the population endured disease, deformities, malnutrition, violence, dangerous working conditions, and pollution, according to a report in The Guardian. Osteoarchaeologist Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy of Wessex Archaeology said the people who were buried in the cemetery at the church of St. George the Martyr led “a life of drudgery and just-about surviving.” The bones of one of the women, she explained, showed that she suffered from congenital syphilis. Her shoulders and upper arms showed signs of strenuous work, her nose was broken, and a wound in her skull made with a thin blade is thought to have been fatal. A flattened nose, a depression in his left brow, and battered knuckles suggest that one man, who also suffered from syphilis, had “several violent altercations,” Dinwiddy said. Many of the graves in the cemetery contained the remains of children under the age of 12, she added. For more on discoveries in London dating to the nineteenth century, go to “A Cornucopia of Condiments.”

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