Medicine and archaeology, two fascinating professions, make almost a natural combination. When remains of our early forebears are unearthed, medical knowledge and diagnostic skills often are the only means of filling in the picture of how these ancient peoples lived and died.
Morse is one of those who has applied medical knowledge to try to learn how our ancestors, when disabled, adjusted to their environment, how the disability was (or was not) tolerated by their associates, and whether the community offered any crude medical or surgical aid. Bone changes resulting from trauma in these ancients are compared with those in the extensive Civil War collection of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (JAMA 240:2407, 1978). Many of the American Indian skeletons and artifacts unearthed by Morse and others are 600 or more years old, and he also cites findings and medical-archaeological studies in other parts of the world.