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Keywords:

  • muscle insertions;
  • cluster analysis;
  • methodology;
  • Iron Age;
  • Italy

Abstract

Muscle attachments have only recently been used systematically as markers of ancient activity, in part because of methodological and interpretive difficulties involved in associating muscle markings with specific activities. An alternative analytical approach focuses on the organization of activity rather than the identification of specific activities. This paper presents data from 18 muscle insertion sites in 56 adult skeletons from the Italian Iron Age cemetery of Pontecagnano. These data indicate that: (1) skeletal development of muscle sites is related to an individual's age; (2) variations in muscle marking within and between skeletons may be linked to activities performed; and (3) even when specific activities cannot be deduced, statistical patterns within a group may inform us about past lifeways and the social organization of activities. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.