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


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.


Skeletal remains Cranial injury Interpersonal violence Taphonomic analysis Forensic anthropology 



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.


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© 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

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