Home Magazines Editors-in-Chief FAQs Contact Us

Finding of exostoses in the external auditory channel of maritime workers in the port of Arica. Rescue of contemporary historical data

Journal of Historical Archaeology & Anthropological Sciences
Pedro Hecht López, Jorge Corrales-Muñoz, Eduardo Parra-Villegas

PDF Full Text


Since the beginning of the 20th century, different investigations in human mummies from the fertile coast of northern Chile have reported the appearance of a bone growth indistinctly called osteoma or exostoses in the external auditory channel (EAC) of prehistoric skulls. Subsequent works defined this excrescence as exostoses, based on the radiological study of the tissues and its bilateral appearance due to reactive growth, based on an environmental hypothesis due to continuous exposure to the cold temperatures of the coastal edge mainly due to fishing and underwater diving for survival during prehistory. At the end of the 20th century, we used conventional radiology to study a group of maritime workers from the port of Arica, divers, and fishermen who worked in the same geographical place where exostoses were reported in the EAC of mummies in northern Chile. For the radiological analysis, the number of exostoses and their location were considered, determining the frequencies and subjecting them to statistical tests, comparing them with a control group of people who did not work at sea. This article rescues the unpublished data of this series of cases of contemporary population and provides radiological evidence to compare with the series of data on local prehistoric population. We conclude that the higher frequency of exostoses in the EAC of current divers and fishermen when compared to the control group, as well as its greater bilateral appearance, allow us to support the hypothesis of exposure to the cold of the maritime environment as the cause of this reactive bone growth of the EAC.


exostoses, external auditory channel, maritime workers, coastline, contemporary population