Paleoepidemiolgical patterns of trauma in a prehistoric population from central California



Skeletal trauma was investigated in a large collection of human remains from central California (N = 162 aged and sexed adults). Lesions investigated included cranial and long bone fractures, projectile wounds, and dislocation. Long bone fractures were found in 10.5% of individuals; overall, incidence by element was 2.3%. In addition, cranial injuries were found in 4.4% of complete adult crania. Projectile wounds were seen unambiguously in four individuals (with embedded obsidian fragments) and strongly suggested in two other individuals with partially healed lesions. Finally, one case of traumatic hip dislocation was also observed. In both incidence and patterning of injuries, this population is similar to other archeological groups from California. This evidence further supports earlier reports indicating that interpersonal aggression was quite common in prehistoric California. Am J Phys Anthropol 115:13–23, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.