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Bone fractures as indicators of intentional violence in the eastern adriatic from the antique to the late medieval period (2nd–16th century AD)

Authors

  • Mario Šlaus,

    1. Department of Archaeology, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
    2. Department of Forensic Medicine and Criminology, Medical School, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
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  • Mario Novak,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Archaeology, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
    • Department of Archaeology, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ante Kovačića 5, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
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  • Željka Bedić,

    1. Department of Archaeology, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
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  • Davor Strinović

    1. Department of Forensic Medicine and Criminology, Medical School, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
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Abstract

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. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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