Spinal dysraphism at the Syrian Neolithic site of Dja’de el-Mughara
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- Estebaranz-Sánchez, F., Martínez, L.M., Alrousan, M. et al. Archaeol Anthropol Sci (2017). doi:10.1007/s12520-016-0460-7
Spina bifida is a neurulation defect that results in an incomplete closing of the backbone, as well as membranes surrounding the spinal cord. Several archaeological cases of spina bifida have been reported, remarkably during the Bronze Age and Classic Era. However, few prehistoric cases have been recovered, with the exception of the important Epipaleolithic Iberomaurusian site of Taforalt (Morocco). This article describes the first case of a spina bifida condition during the Neolithic of Near East, at the Syrian site of Dja-de el-Mughara. Although at the onset of the Syrian civil war, image record has enabled the description of a complete spina bifida case. Two other possible cases have not been confirmed, since it was impossible to reevaluate the osteological material hosted at the field laboratory in Dja-de el-Mughara. However, due to the low incidence of this neural tube disorder (NTD), we argue that it could be associated to a genetic disorder rather than to environmental factors such as arsenic intake or a deficient diet.