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Posts Tagged ‘Bioarchaeology’

The diagnosis and context of a facial deformity from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Spofforth, North Yorkshire [en]

søndag den 29. september 2013

The diagnosis and context of a facial deformity from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Spofforth, North Yorkshire by Elizabeth Craig-Atkins and Geoff Craig. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (2012)

An individual aged between 6 and 7 years at death from a 7th to 9th century cemetery at Village Farm, Spofforth, North Yorkshire, presented significant pathological swelling to the left facial bones. The ectocranial surface was bulbous and uneven, and the expanded diploë was densely packed with a mass of thick trabeculae. Radiographic and histological analysis, in combination with the macroscopically observed pathological changes, supported the differential diagnosis of fibrous dysplasia. The skeletal changes to the left face and jaw would have resulted in a significant facial deformity. Examples of individuals with physical impairments or disfigurements from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are rare.

Nevertheless, it seems that a significant proportion are afforded unusual burial practices more often associated with deviancy, for example, at the edge of cemeteries or on a reversed orientation, seemingly indicating that their diminished physical capabilities or altered physical appearance had a detrimental effect on their social status. The child from Spofforth was, however, buried in a normative manner, extended, supine and in a plain earth-cut grave, with no indication that their facial deformity had prompted unusual funerary provision. This example of facial disfigurement contributes to a growing corpus of potentially disabled individuals from early medieval England.

Click here to read this article from the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

Four methods of trepanation demonstrated on a single human skull [en]

søndag den 29. september 2013

Dr. Thomas Wilson Parry (1866-1945) owned this particular skull, which he used to perform practical research on trepanation. He performed roughly 50 trepanation experiments on the skulls of the more and less recent deceased, using in this case a shark’s tooth, a flint-pointed bow drill, a flint scraper, and obsidian to achieve the variety of holes. Parry published Trephination of the Living Human Skull in Prehistoric Times in 1923, and an amusing ballad about the practice in 1918.

Read more here.

The Porsmose Man: A Neolithic skeleton from Denmark [da]

lørdag den 25. maj 2013
The skull of the Porsmose Man
The sternum The location of Porsmose

Image 1: The bone arrowhead still sat in the skull, when the skeleton of a 35-40-year-old man man was found in 1946 in the peat bog Porsmose, near Næstved. Another arrow was also deeply embedded in the man’s breastbone. Both arrows must have been fired at an angle from above and from close distance. This suggests that the man was surprised by his attackers or perhaps was the victim of an execution. After this the body was thrown out into what was then a lake. The arrows are a type which belong to the Single Grave Culture period.

Image 2: The Porsmose man’s breastbone (sternum) was perforated by a bone arrow.

Image 3: The Porsmose skeleton was found in a bog north-east of Holme Olstrup near Næstved.

The skull is on display at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen

How to side the fibula using just the shaft [da]

lørdag den 13. april 2013

Correct identification of the fibula can be tricky. These notes by slipstreamborne might provide some help in case of confusion:

Ah, the fibula. Wonkiest of the long bones. I could never side the fuckers without extensive consultation of my osteo notes or keep the proximal and distal ends straight until a TA of mine showed me this trick, which has the awesome benefit of working both with whole fibulae and any shaft fragment (!!!!!!!) that includes part of the distal third or so of the shaft. AND you can do it by touch, which is a double bonus if you’re more tactile and shape oriented in your siding like me. AND IT WORKS UPSIDE DOWN, so you’re not completely fucked if you can’t figure out which end is up.


Okay, see that diagonal line there on the lateral view on the right? And how it defines a roughly triangular surface of bone just proximal to the distal end? That is the triangular subcutaneous area of the fibula and it is your new best friend.


(See T.D. White knows what I’m talking about.)

The key point here is that this very rough right triangle tapers towards the same direction that the bone is from. Just follow it with your eyes or your fingers, base to top. This one is a right, so it points up and to the right.




And if you have the bone upside down, you can still follow that diagonal line from the base to the top and it will point towards the side the bone is from.


So even if you have a professor who likes to hide bits of bones in boxes and make you identify and side them without looking, FEAR THE FIBULA NOT! Go forth and side it like a champ.

Source: slipstreamborne

Leprogenic odontodysplasia [da]

tirsdag den 29. januar 2013

New Open Access Article: Vítor M.J. Matos & Ana Luísa Santos: Leprogenic odontodysplasia: new evidence from the St. Jørgen’s medieval leprosarium cemetery (Odense, Denmark)

Leprogenic odontodysplasia
Leprogenic odontodysplasia

The old cemetary belonging to the leprosy hospital here in Odense was excavated between 1980 and 1981. It was in use from 1270 to 1560. The 1544 skeletons from the cemetary are stored at our anthropological department (ADBOU) at the University of Southern Denmark. A wonderful collection of approx. 15,000 primarily medieval skeletons.

You can see pictures of a mother and her unborn child, also from St. Jørgen’s leprosarium in Odense here.

Ovarian tumour, with teeth and a bone fragment inside, found in a Roman-age skeleton [da]

torsdag den 24. januar 2013
Calcified ovarian teratoma
Calcified ovarian teratoma

A team of researchers led by the UAB has found the first ancient remains of a calcified ovarian teratoma, in the pelvis of the skeleton of a woman from the Roman era.

The find confirms the presence in antiquity of this type of tumour – formed by the remains of tissues or organs, which are difficult to locate during the examination of ancient remains. Inside the small round mass, four teeth and a small piece of bone were found.

Teratomas are usually benign and contain remains of organic material, such as hair, teeth, bones and other tissues. There are no references in the literature to ovarian teratomas in ancient remains like those found in this study, led by the researcher Núria Armentano of the Biological Anthropology Unit of the UAB and published in the International Journal of Paleopathology.

The tumour in question is rounded in shape, with a wrinkled surface, of the same colour as the bones, about 43 mm long and 44 mm in diameter. It was found in the right-hand part of the pelvis of a woman of between 30 and 40 years of age and who lived around 1,600 years ago, and came from the Roman cemetery in the archaeological site of La Fogonussa (Lleida). A macroscopic examination and a scan revealed four teeth of anomalous morphology inside the tumour, two of which were adhering to the inside wall of the tumour, and a small bone fragment.

Read more here

Original article: Núria Armentano, Mercè Subirana, Albert Isidro, Oscar Escala, Assumpció Malgosa, "An ovarian teratoma of late Roman age", International Journal of Paleopathology, Volume 2, Issue 4, December 2012, Pages 236-239, ISSN 1879-9817, 10.1016/j.ijpp.2012.11.003. (pdf)

The Gladiator Graveyard [da]

tirsdag den 8. januar 2013

Read presentation here

Thanks to Morbid Curiosity for this link

Age estimation from teeth [da]

lørdag den 3. november 2012

Eruption of deciduous (baby or milk) teeth and permanent (adult) teeth occurs at fairly regular intervals during the subadult years of development (see the figure above, deciduous teeth are shaded). Therefore, age estimation of subadults based dental eruption is quite accurate.

Click image to enlarge

While tooth wear and permanent tooth loss can occur in subadults, these degenerative changes are usually associated with adults. Loss of permanent teeth and accompanying bone resorption of the alveolar bone of the maxilla and/or mandible are often associated with old age. Tooth wear or dental attrition most often occurs in adults, but the age of onset depends on diet and other environmental factors. This process leads to loss of outer white tooth enamel and exposure of the yellowish dentine of the pulp cavity, especially on the cusps of the teeth. The older an individual is, the more dentine is exposed due to tooth wear.

Image is scanned from Tim D. White, Michael T. Black & Pieter A. Folkens: Human Osteology, Academic Press, 3 ed. (2011)


lørdag den 20. oktober 2012

Jelena Bekvalac and Bill White from the Museum of London Centre for Bioarchaeology describe the process of examining bones. They demonstrate ways of ageing and sexing the skeletons, as well as different bone pathologies

Archaeological News: Mummy with Mouthful of Cavities Discovered [en]

onsdag den 10. oktober 2012

Archaeological News: Mummy with Mouthful of Cavities Discovered