The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Hip trauma and convalescence: The case for care at Ghazali


1Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, 2Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Part of the medieval Kingdom of Makuria (ca. 6th–14th c. CE), the settlement of Ghazali is located within the Wadi Abu Dom region of the Bayuda desert in northern Sudan. Occupied between ca. 680-1275 CE the coenobitic monastery at Ghazali was inhabited by an unknown number of lay individuals and up to 70 monks at any one time. A large cemetery (Cemetery 2) along the southern limit of the monastery was the final resting place for the resident monks.

During excavations in Cemetery 2 an adult male (Ghz-2-036), ~35-45 years old, with a drastic hip fracture was recovered. Macroscopic and radiographic observation identified an extracapsular basicervical fracture of the right femur with complete separation along the intertrochanteric line at the femoral neck (a type 31B.3 fracture according to the AO/OTA classification), resulting in non-union and the development of a pseudarthrosis.

The presence of significant osteoblastic response and evident wear around the pseudarthrosis indicate substantial healing and suggest this individual may have been mobile to some degree following hip fracture healing. Hip fractures can have severe, and in many cases life threatening, implications and typically require extended periods of immobility and attendant care, bringing into question the nature of recovery and convalescent care of this identified individual. This paper engages with the bioarchaeology of care and broader archaeological and textual materials to examine the nature of the hip fracture experienced by individual Ghz-2-036 and the possibility of having been cared for at the Ghazali monastery during the recovery phase.

the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP); the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology (PCMA), University of Warsaw; the De Brzezie Lanckoronski Foundation in association with the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Slides/Poster (pdf)