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The Answer to Inequality is in the Past

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Leiden is the city of archeology par excellence. The very first Professor in Archaeology, Caspar Reuvens, was from Leiden! And now, 200 years later, Leiden is home to both the internationally leading Faculty of Archeology and the renowned National Museum of Antiquities.

Following the success of the 2022 Leidse Stellingen lecture series, the two heritage centers are joining forces again. Twice a month there is an online lecture by one of our renowned researchers. What drives them in their work? With provocative statements and engaging stories, they invite you into the world of the archaeologist.

Lecture October 10: Dr Sarah Schrader

Statement: The Answer to Inequality is in the Past

Today, there is an inextricable link between social inequality and health; individuals of lower socioeconomic status are at greater risk of disease and early death than their wealthy counterparts. This disparity is documented within and between countries, including the Netherlands. Despite their best efforts, doctors, epidemiologists, and public health experts have not been able to tackle this major social obstacle, despite decades of research and policy implementation.  The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted these structural inequalities and recent data seems to suggest the problem is only getting worse.

Archaeological research has identified material manifestations of social inequality, extending as far back in time as early cities and states. These interpretations are often based on “things”: the exotic materials that people are buried with, the structures that they lived in, and the pots that they used in daily life. Sarah Schrader’s presentation suggests that a better gauge of inequality is to study the people that experienced it. Human skeletal remains adapt and change throughout one’s life, documenting diseases and stressors along the way. This presentation will examine osteoarchaeological data from the Netherlands to illustrate how health and status intersected in the past. Sarah will argue that, perhaps, the key to solving the problem of health disparity in the modern world is to look to data from the past to better understand how and why inequality first appeared.

Please register via the website of the National Museum of Antiquities.

More information and registration

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