The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Evidence of possible interpersonal violence in a female bronze age skeleton from Romania


1Program in Sociology/Anthropology, Utica College, 2"Francisc I. Rainer" Institute of Anthropology, Romanian Academy, Bucharest, 3Programs in Physical Therapy and Sociology/Anthropology, Utica College

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An archaeological excavation in 1973 uncovered the skeletal remains of a woman from the Bronze Age Monteoru culture. The remains were found near Săuceşti village in Bačau County, eastern Romania. Burial 1973 presents fracture patterns consistent with modern, documented cases of interpersonal violence. Bioarchaeologists caution to be wary of inferring interpersonal violence from skeletal remains alone; however, it is important to recognize contextual markers and fracture patterns that suggest the possibility of non-accidental injuries sustained by specific sex and age groups in a population. Analysis of the pelvic girdle and the cranium indicate that Burial 1973 was a woman who was 40-45 years old when she died. Her skeleton exhibits two healed, depressed lesions on the frontal and left parietal bones and healed fractures of the distal thirds of her right radius and ulna. Observation and measurements of the cranial lesions suggest blunt force trauma. The right forearm fracture appears to be a parry fracture, but also could represent a Colles fracture resulting from a fall. Another excavation in the same region in 2003 revealed the remains of second Monteoru woman (Burial M. 11/2003) who also presented healed depressed fractures of her right parietal and occipital. Interpersonal violence and, by extension, domestic violence, could be an explanation for these fractures given the sex of the individuals and their patterns of injury. The possibility of accidental injury, however, cannot be excluded in the absence of a larger sample and more specific contextual evidence.

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