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

Set Apart: Why were these men dumped in that grave?


1Anthropology, University of Miami, 2Programs in Physical Therapy and Sociology/Anthropology, Utica College, 3Institutul de Antropologie, “Francisc I. Rainer” al Academiei Romane, Bucharest

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Present-day Bucharest (Romania) has been the site of repeated waves of conflict for centuries. We report on the physical evidence of this pattern exhibited in three sets of skeletal remains, recovered as part of a larger archaeological study of University Square and the cemetery associated with St. Sava church. The skeletons were recovered from a common grave 100m distant from the cemetery and dated to 1550-1650 AD. We collected qualitative and quantitative data on variables related to sex, age, ancestry and trauma. Our data show that all were male, aged 25-50 at time of death. Ancestral affinity was calculated with FORDISC software. The results suggest one male had European ancestry, another Asian and the third African. Each displayed signs of multiple healed and perimortem traumas, including sharp, projectile, and blunt force trauma. Lead shot was recovered from the neck area of two individuals. The third had an arrowhead in the same area, in addition to his having been beheaded. The orientation of the remains suggests that the bodies were buried unceremoniously. In sum, our ancestry findings are consant with the biological diversity of entities contesting for control of the area. Their sex and age are consistant with the composition of armies of that era. Their bones disclose that their lives were marked by injuries and that each died violently, likely in armed conflict and/or execution. The ancestry and actions of these three individuals probably led to their deaths and their segregation from the local community cemetery.

This research was supported in part by M. CONSTANTINESCU, and A. D. SOFICARU of the Institutul de Antropologie "Francisc I. Rainer" al Academiei Romane, Bucharest.

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