Bovid ungulates, notably cattle and sheep, develop a range of joint disorders (athropathies), some of which may reflect the husbandry to which they were subject during life.
Research on this topic follows on from the classification first proposed by Baker and Brothwell in 1981. Most cases can be attributed to one of four syndromes: osteoarthrosis (not osteoarthritis because most cases show no evidence of associated inflammation), osteochondrosis, infectious arthropathy and traumatic arthropathy. Further sub-divisions within those major classes allow us to define quite particular groups of clinical signs that may survive on archaeological specimens.
The aim is to bring a greater precision and more systematic differential diagnosis to one of the most frequently-encountered forms of animal palaeopathology, so enhancing the interpretive value of the diagnosis.