The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)

The “auriculate extension”: a new indicator of pregnancy and childbirth at the sacrum?


1OREA, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum Vienna

April 14, 2018 , Zilker 1/2/3 Add to calendar

In the ERC-funded project VAMOS (Value of mothers to society), we investigate the possibility to correlate the social status of women, deduced from grave goods and effort put into grave construction, with their reproductive status. Ongoing anthropological analyses include the detailed systematic study of pelvic features on large skeletal samples from the Central European late Neolithic to the late Iron Age. We record commonly addressed features at the bones of the pelvic girdle, i.e. shape and stage of preauricular sulcus, lesions at the dorsal pubic surface, lesions and exostoses at the ventral pubic side, and shape and exact location of the extended pubic tubercle, in the attempt to find significant patterns. The detailed study of the ilium and sacrum revealed a feature that, to our knowledge, has so far not been described in anthropological literature: the “auriculate extension”, a lobe-like feature at the anterior-superior border of the sacral facies auricularis. It was detected in 24 % of females in which the relevant sacrum part was preserved, but none of the male individuals. Often found bilaterally in women of all ages and varying combinations with commonly recorded pelvic features, this feature could be the bony result of a “sacroiliac subluxation” described in the anatomical literature. This condition may result from the tightening of the sacroiliac joint in the wrong position after pregnancy, in which changes of balance had necessitated a shift. These findings might contribute to the discussion on the analysis of pelvic features that may relate to pregnancy and childbirth.