Original paper

Frequency and patterning of bone trauma in the late medieval population (13th-16th century) from Dugopolje, southern Croatia

Novak, Mario; Šlaus, Mario

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 69 No. 3 (2012), p. 335 - 350

published: Jul 1, 2012

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2012/0181

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ArtNo. ESP140006903007, Price: 29.00 €

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to test the hypothesis of an increased level of interpersonal violence in Dugopolje during the late medieval period as testified by written sources. In order to accomplish this, an analysis and comparison of frequencies and patterning of long bone and craniofacial fractures between sex and age categories in the Dugopolje skeletal sample was performed. In total 209 excellently preserved adult skeletons were analysed: 111 males and 98 females. The total long bone fracture frequency is 1.5% (29/1910) with a significantly higher frequency in males compared to females. Most of the long bone injuries occurred as a result of accidents, probably due to rugged mountainous terrain, while a certain portion of trauma resulted from deliberate violence. Significantly higher fracture frequencies in males could be a result of a strict sexual division of labour where males performed more physically demanding and risky tasks, as witnessed by historical sources. 26 out of 119 complete adult crania (21.8%) exhibit skeletal trauma with significantly higher frequencies in males. Perimortem trauma was observed in one individual while antemortem healed sharp force lesions were registered in five individuals (all males). The predominance of frontal craniofacial injuries, as well as the presence of perimortem trauma and sharp force lesions, suggests the presence of deliberate violence in this community. Although the indicators of deliberate violence were recorded predominantly in males, suggesting that intentional violence in Dugopolje was exclusively males' prerogative, the presence of nasal fracture in a female skeleton might point to a male towards female violence. Presented bioarchaeological data are in accordance with the written documents thus corroborating the claims of an increased level of deliberate interpersonal violence in the late medieval population from Dugopolje.

Keywords

dugopoljelate medieval perioddeliberate violenceperimortem injury