Advertisement

Violence in the Early Bronze Age. Diagnosis of skull lesions using anthropological, taphonomic and scanning electron microscopy techniques

  • Alba Pasini
  • Emanuela Gualdi-RussoEmail author
  • Filippo Scianò
  • Ursula Thun Hohenstein
Lessons from the Museum

Abstract

In this paper we present the study of a skull belonging to a young male from the Italian Bronze Age showing three perimortem injuries on the frontal and parietal bones; the peculiarity of the frontal injury is represented by its singular shape, which may be indicative of the weapon that caused the lesion. The aim of the present study is to examine the traumatic evidence in relation to possible etiological factors, in order to attempt to establish if the lesion occurred peri or post-mortem, and to evaluate if these traumatic injuries could be interpreted as an evidence of interpersonal violence, by combining anthropological, taphonomic and ESEM investigations. The combination of multidisciplinary methods of study can provide important new insights into inter-personal violence.

Keywords

Skeletal remains Cranial injury Interpersonal violence Taphonomic analysis Forensic anthropology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge Rita Bovolenta, Valentina Russo and Simonetta Zonari for technical support. Thanks also to Vanessa Manzon and Letizia Fazzari for collaboration in preliminary studies.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

Not required.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

References

  1. 1.
    Masotti S, Varalli A, Goude G, Moggi-Cecchi J, Gualdi-Russo E. A combined analysis of dietary habits in the Bronze Age site of Ballabio (northern Italy). Archaeol Anthropol Sci. 2017:1–19.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Manzon VS, Thun Hohenstein U, Gualdi-Russo E. Injuries on a skull from the Ancient Bronze Age (Ballabio, Lecco, Italy): a natural or an anthropic origin? J Archaeol Sci. 2012;39:3428–35.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ferembach D, Schwydeski I, Stloukal M. Recommendations for age and sex diagnoses of skeletons. J Hum Evol. 1980.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Buikstra JE, Ubelaker DH. Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains. Fayetteville: Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Sereries No. 44. 1994.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Krogman WM, Iscan MY. The human skeleton in forensic medicine. Springfiled: Charles C Thomas Publisher; 1986.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lovejoy CO. Dental wear in the Libben population: its functional pattern and role in the determination of adult skeletal age at death. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1985;68:47–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ubelaker DH. Human skeletal remains: excavation, analysis, interpretation. 2nd ed. Washington DC: Taraxacum; 1989.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Brooks S, Suchey JM. Skeletal age determination based on the os pubis: a comparison of the Acsádi-Nemeskéri and Suchey-brooks methods. Hum Evol. 1990;5:227–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Acsádi G, Nemeskéri J. History of human life span and mortality. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó; 1970.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sauer NJ. Manner of death: skeletal evidence of blunt and sharp instrument wounds. In: Rathbun TA, Buikstra JE, editors. Human identification: case studies in forensic anthropology. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher; 1984. p. 177–84.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lovell NC. Trauma analysis in paleopathology. Yrbk Phys Anthr. 1997;40:139–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sauer NJ. The timing of injuries and manner of death: distinguishing among antemortem, perimortem and postmortem trauma. In: Reichs KJ, editor. Forensic osteology: advances in the identification of human remains. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher; 1998. p. 321–32.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cattaneo C, Grandi M. Antropologia e odontologia forense. Guida allo studio dei resti ossei. Milano: Monduzzi; 2004.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Moraitis K, Spiliopuolou C. Identification and differential diagnosis of perimortem blunt force trauma in tubular long bones. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2006;2:221–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kimmerle EH, Baraybar JP. Skeletal trauma: identification of injuries resulting from human rights abuse and armed conflict. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pickering RB, Bachmann D. The use of forensic anthropology. 2nd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2009.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Orschiedt J, Häuber A, Haidle MN, Alt KW, Buitrago-Téllez CH. Survival of a multiple skull trauma: the case of an early Neolithic individual from the LBK enclosure at Herxheim (Southwest Germany). Int J Osteoarchaeol. 2003;13:375–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rose JJ. A replication technique for scanning electron microscopy: applications for anthropologists. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1983;62:255–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Shipman P. Lifehistory of a fossil: an introduction to taphonomy and palaeoecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 1981.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    D’Errico F. Lecture technologique de l’art mobilier gravé. Nouvelles méthodes et premiers résultats sur les galets gravés de Rochedane. Anthropologie. 1988;92:101–22.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Iscan MY, Helmer RP. Forensic analysis of the skull: craniofacial analysis, reconstruction, and identification. New York: Wiley; 1993.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kähler K, Haber J, Seidel HP. Reanimating the dead: reconstruction of expressive faces from skull data. ACM TOG (SIGGRAPH Conf proceedings). 2003;22:554–61.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wilkinson C. Forensic facial reconstruction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gualdi-Russo E, Zaccagni L, Russo V. Giovanni Battista Morgagni: facial reconstruction by virtual anthropology. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2015;11:222–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Miranda GE, Wilkinson C, Roughley M, Beaini TL, Melani RFH. Assessment of accuracy and recognition of three-dimensional computerized forensic craniofacial reconstruction. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0196770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Barbian LT, Sledzik PS. Healing following cranial trauma. J Forensic Sci. 2008;53:263–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Iscan MY, Steyn M. The human skeleton in forensic medicine. 3rd ed. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher; 2013.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Walker PL. Cranial injuries as evidence of violence in prehistoric southern California. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1989;80:313–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Jiménez-Brobeil SA, Du Souich P, Al Oumaoui I. Possible relationship of cranial traumatic injuries with violence in the South-East Iberian Peninsula from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009;140:465–75.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lieverse AR, Pratt IV, Schulting RJ, Cooper DML, Bazaliiskii VI, Weber AW. Point taken: an unusual case of incisor agenesis and mandibular trauma in Early Bronze Age Siberia. Int J Paleopathol. 2014;6:53–9.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lefèvre T, Alvarez JC, Lorin de la Grandmaison G. Discriminating factors in fatal blunt trauma from low level falls and homicide. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2015;11:152–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Schmitt A. Forensic anthropology and medicine: complementary sciences from recovery to cause of death. 1st ed. Totowa: Humana Press; 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Brickley M, Ferllini R. Forensic anthropology: case studies from Europe. Springfield: Charles C Thomas; 2007.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Downing M, Fibiger L. An experimental investigation of sharp force skeletal trauma with replica Bronze Age weapons. J Archaeol Sci Rep. 2017;11:546–54.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lewis JE. Identifying sword marks on bone: criteria for distinguishing between cut marks made by different classes of bladed weapons. J Archaeol Sci. 2008;35:2001–8.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Greenfield HJ. The origins of metallurgy: distinguishing stone from metal cut-marks on bones from archaeological sites. J Archaeol Sci. 1999;26:797–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Smith MJ, Brickley MB, Leach SL. Experimental evidence for lithic projectile injuries: improving identification of an under-recognised phenomenon. J Archaeol Sci. 2007;34:540–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Bertolini M, Thun Hohenstein U. Bevel-ended tools on large ungulate ribs during the Bronze Age in northern Italy: preliminary result of functional and experimental analyses. Quat Int. 2017;427:253–67.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Smith MJ, James S, Pover T, Ball N, Barnetson V, Foster B, et al. Fantastic plastic? Experimental evaluation of polyurethane bone substitutes as proxies for human bone in trauma simulations. Legal Med. 2015;17:427–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Flieger A, Kölzer SC, Plenzig S, Heinbuch S, Kettner M, Ramsthaler F, et al. Bony injuries in homicide cases (1994–2014). A retrospective study. Int J Legal Med. 2016;130:1401–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Sciences and Surgical Specialties, Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and PreventionUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly

Personalised recommendations