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Atlas of Bioarchaeology from the Osteological collection of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

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Namjera ovog rada bila je analizirati učestalost i distribuciju cribrae orbitaliae, pokazatelja anemije izazvane nedostatkom željeza, u kasnosrednjovjekovnim skeletnim uzorcima iz Dugopolja i kontinentalne Hrvatske. Na taj način pokušalo se uvidjeti postoje li razlike u životnim uvjetima i zdravstvenom statusu analiziranih populacija. Prilikom antropološke analize posebna pažnja posvećena je još nekim koštanim patologijama koje ukazuju na biološki stres kao što su hipoplazija zubne cakline, nespecifični periostitis i traume. Učestalost i distribucija cribrae orbitaliae slična je u oba uzorka sa značajno višom učestalošću cribrae orbitaliae kod djece u odnosu na odrasle osobe. U oba uzorka odrasle osobe kod kojih je uočena cribra orbitalia imaju značajno kraći prosječni životni vijek od osoba kod kojih ova patologija nije prisutna. Učestalost aktivne cribrae orbitaliae kod djece u oba uzorka je identična (18, 2%). U Dugopolju je uočena značajna pozitivna korelacija između cribrae orbitaliae i nespecifičnog periostitisa na razini čitavog uzorka, dok takva korelacija u uzorku iz kontinentalne Hrvatske nije prisutna. Svi analizirani osteološki pokazatelji upućuju na vrlo sličnu kvalitetu života u dalmatinskom zaleđu i kontinentalnoj Hrvatskoj tijekom kasnog srednjeg vijeka što donekle odudara od rezultata proizašlih iz dosadašnjih istraživanja koja su ukazivala na nešto bolje životne uvjete u dalmatinskom zaleđu. Podaci izneseni u ovom radu potvrđuju važnost ovakvih istraživanja u proučavanju načina života i zdravstvenih uvjeta populacija koje su tijekom srednjeg vijeka naseljavale naše prostore. The intention of this work was to analyse the frequency and distribution of cribra orbitalia. an indicator of iron deficiency anaemia, in late medieval skeletal samples from Dugopolje and continental Croatia. ln this way, an attempt would be made to gain an insight as to whether differences existed in the living conditions and health status of the analysed populations. During the anthropological analysis special attention was paid to some other bone pathologies which indicate biological stress, such as linear enamel hypoplasia, non-specific periostitis and trauma. The frequency and distribution of cribra orbitalia is similar in both samples with a significantly higher frequency of cribra orbitalia among children as compared to adults. ln both samples, adults who were discovered to have cribra had significantly shorter average life spans than those who did not have this pathology. The frequency of active cribra orbitalia among children is identical in both samples (18.2%). A very strong correlation was noticed in Dugopolje between cribra orbitalia and non-specific periostitis throughout the whole sample, while such a correlation is nol present in the sample from continental Croatia. All the analysed osteological indicators showa very similar quality of life in the Dalmatian hinterland and continental Croatia during the late Middle Ages which somewhat conflict with results obtained from previous investigations which showed rather better living conditions in the Dalmatian hinterland. The data set out in this work confirms the importance of such investigations in the study of the ways of life and health conditions of populations who inhabited this area during the Middle Ages
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Extensive anthropological research conducted on osteological human materials from Konjsko strongly suggest that this community was an old Croatian population. Even though it has already been hypothesized that the cemetery at Konjsko belonged to the sphere of old Croatian cemeteries of the ninth to eleventh centuries based on archaeological discoveries, anthropological analyses now provide additional backing for this view. The bioarchaeological characteristics of the sampling from Konjsko and the composite old Croatian samplings are very similar, which suggests an identical quality of life at all sites. Some differences between the samplings (frequency of alveolar disease and cavities) are most likely the result of normal fluctuations and statistical variations in small samplings such as that from Konjsko. The somewhat lower frequency of tooth decay and hypoplasia of tooth enamel in Konjsko may suggest that at least some of the diet of this population was based on hunting, but at this point this cannot be confirmed with any certainty. What both samplings have in common is a high frequency of cribrae orbitaliae and non-specific infectious disease, and the synergy between anaemia and non-specific infectious disease is probably the cause of high child mortality in both samplings, particularly in the earliest age groups. The relatively low frequency of long-bone trauma and the absence of cranial/head trauma and perimortem trauma in Konjsko suggests a low degree of physical risk in this population. This work also once more stresses the benefits of such types of analysis in attempts to shed light on the everyday lives of our ancestors, particularly when no written records of this exist and archaeological finds do not provide sufficiently clear picture.
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Dento-alveolar pathologies: caries, ante mortem tooth loss, abscesses, calculus, alveolar resorption and tooth wear were analysed in two composite skeletal series from Croatia's eastern Adriatic coast (Dalmatia). The first consists of 103 skeletons from seven Late Antique (3rd–6th century AD) sites, the second of 151 skeletons from three Early Medieval (7th–11th centuries AD) sites. As recent bioarhaeological studies (Šlaus, 2008) showed a significant increase of disease loads and trauma frequencies in Dalmatia during the Early Medieval period, the aim of this study was to investigate whether dental health was equally adversely affected by the Late Antique/Early Medieval transition. The results of our analyses show that the frequencies of carious lesions, ante mortem tooth loss, abscesses and alveolar resorption increased significantly during the Early Medieval period, as did the degree of heavy occlusal wear on posterior teeth. These data suggest a change in alimentary habits, with a significantly higher dependence on carbohydrates and a greater reliance on hard, fibrous foods requiring vigorous mastication in the Early Medieval diet. The combination of higher calculus and lower caries rates in the Late Antique series similarly suggests more protein in the Late Antique diet and is, therefore, also consistent with the hypothesised change in alimentary habits. In general (the two exceptions are male caries and female alveolar resorption frequencies) lesion frequencies increased uniformly in both sexes suggesting that the deterioration of dental health during the Early Medieval period equally affected males and females. Cumulatively, the collected data suggest that the political, social, economic and religious changes that characterised the Late Antique/Early Medieval transition in Dalmatia resulted in a clear discontinuity, not only from the cultural, but also from the biological point of view with an evident deterioration of oral health during the Early Medieval period. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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To test the historically documented hypothesis of a general increase in deliberate violence in the eastern Adriatic from the antique (AN; 2nd-6th c.) through the early medieval (EM; 7th-11th c.) to the late-medieval period (LM; 12th-16th c.), an analysis of the frequency and patterning of bone trauma was conducted in three skeletal series from these time periods. A total of 1,125 adult skeletons-346 from the AN, 313 from the EM, and 466 from the LM series-were analyzed. To differentiate between intentional violence and accidental injuries, data for trauma frequencies were collected for the complete skeleton, individual long bones, and the craniofacial region as well as by type of injury (perimortem vs. antemortem). The results of our analyses show a significant temporal increase in total fracture frequencies when calculated by skeleton as well as of individuals exhibiting one skeletal indicator of deliberate violence (sharp force lesions, craniofacial injuries, "parry" fractures, or perimortem trauma). No significant temporal increases were, however, noted in the frequencies of craniofacial trauma, "parry" fractures, perimortem injuries, or of individuals exhibiting multiple skeletal indicators of intentional violence. Cumulatively, these data suggest that the temporal increase in total fracture frequencies recorded in the eastern Adriatic was caused by a combination of factors that included not only an increase of intentional violence but also a significant change in lifestyle that accompanied the transition from a relatively affluent AN urban lifestyle to a more primitive rural medieval way of life.
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We tested the hypothesis that the transition from the late antique to the early mediaeval period in Croatia had a negative impact on the periodontal health. 1118 skulls were examined for dental calculus, alveolar bone resorption, fenestrations, dehiscences and root furcation involvement. The prevalence of teeth with calculus varied from 40.7% in the LA sample of continental parts of Croatia to 50.3% in the LA sample of Adriatic Croatia. The prevalence of alveolar bone resorption ranged between 21.2% in the EM sample from continental Croatia and 32.3% in the LA sample from Adriatic Croatia. The prevalence of individuals with alveolar bone dehiscences varied from 8.6% in the LA sample from continental Croatia up to 15.0% in the EM sample from Adriatic Croatia. The prevalence of individuals with alveolar bone fenestrations varied from 21.5% in the LA sample from Adriatic Croatia up to 36.2% in the LA sample from continental Croatia. The prevalence of individuals with exposed root bifurcations or trifurcations varied from 9.0% in the EM sample from Adriatic Croatia up to 20.7% in the EM sample from continental Croatia. Statistically significant differences were found between samples. The transition from the late antique to the early mediaeval period in Croatia did not have a negative impact on periodontal health. Studies of periodontal health of ancient populations should be performed to provide a better and more reliable reconstruction of living conditions in the past.
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Osteological changes consistent with ankylosing spondylitis were observed in three males and one female skeleton recovered from four medieval sites-Velim, Koprivno, Buje, and Rijeka-all situated on Croatia's eastern Adriatic coast and its immediate hinterland. The skeletons present changes in the spine, ribs, sacrum, and innominates that are typical of ankylosing spondylitis that is a progressive, inflammatory disease of connective tissue calcification. The disease most commonly affects the sacroiliac joints, the joints of the spine, and the costovertebral joints. In the final stages of the disease, the vertebral bodies remodel and together with the associated syndesmophytes form a continuous, smooth bone surface that is sometimes referred to as "bamboo spine." The prevalence of this disorder in the analyzed Croatian samples is 4/303 or 1.3% and thus corresponds with frequencies recorded in modern European populations. Differential diagnosis rules out the possibility of DISH, rheumatoid arthritis, and melorheostosis. These are the first cases of ankylosing spondylitis identified in Croatian archaeological series.
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The paper presents the results of the bioarchaeological study of a Roman period (3rd-5th century) skeletal sample from Zadar, Croatia with the focus on subadult stress indicators (cribra orbitalia and dental enamel hypoplasia) and indicators of non-specific infectious diseases (periostitis). The total frequency of cribra orbitalia, an indicator of iron deficiency anaemia, in Zadar is 20.1%. Half of the subadult skeletons from Zadar exhibit signs of cribra orbitalia, of which two are in active form. Adults not affected by cribra orbitalia lived on average 4.5 years longer than individuals affected by this pathological change. Total frequency of dental enamel hypoplasia in adults is 61.1% with somewhat higher frequency in females. The frequency of periostitis in subadults (66.7%) is significantly higher than in adults (30.4%). A positive correlation was established between cribra orbitalia and periostitis in males. The presented data suggest relatively low quality of life in Roman Zadar, most probably due to the overcrowding inside the walled city which led to deterioration of sanitary conditions and the occurrence of infectious diseases.
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Anthropological analysis of a young adult male from the mediaeval Stenjevec skeletal series revealed supernumerary teeth on both sides of the mandible, and an un-united subcondylar fracture of the mandible. The first condition is a developmental abnormality, while subcondylar fractures are one of the most frequent fractures of the mandible. Although, the osteological collection of the Department of Archaeology of the Croatian academy of Sciences and Arts consists of nearly 5,500 skeletons, this is the first documented case that exhibits these conditions in Croatian archaeological skeletal series.
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Excavation of the historic period cemetery in Cepin, Croatia revealed the presence of a large number of perimortem injuries distributed among males, females, and subadults. Archaeological and historical data suggest these individuals were victims of a raid carried out by Turkish akinji light cavalry in 1441. Comparisons with the frequencies of perimortem trauma in 12 other, temporally congruent skeletal series from the Balkans (n = 2,123 skeletons) support this assumption. The role of the akinji in the Ottoman army was twofold: to supply war captives, and to terrorize and disperse local populations before the advance of regular troops. This article tests the hypothesis that the purpose of the 1441 raid was the latter. To accomplish this, perimortem trauma in the series were analyzed by sex, age, location, and depth of the injury. A total of 82 perimortem injuries were recorded in 12 males, 7 females, and 3 subadults. The demographic profile of the victims suggests that young adults were specifically targeted in the attack. Significant sex differences are noted in the number, distribution, and pattern of perimortem trauma. Females exhibit significantly more perimortem injuries per individual, and per bone affected, than males. The morphology and pattern of perimortem trauma in females is suggestive of gratuitous violence. Cumulatively, analysis of the osteological data suggest that the objective of the 1441 akinji raid was to spread terror and panic in the Cepin area, either as revenge for recent military setbacks, or as part of a long-term strategy intended to depopulate the area around Osijek.