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Anthropological analysis of the osteological material from an ancient tomb (Early Bronze Age) from the middle Euphrates valley, Terqa (Syria)

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Abstract

Terqa, situated on the right bank of the Middle Euphrates, is known to have been a site already in the third and second millennium BC. Excavations which take place in this region aim to provide answers for numerous significant issues connected with the origins of human civilisation. In 2008 season we found a tomb dated 2650–2450 BC, consisting of two chambers with stone domes. The smaller chamber contained many luxury grave goods. The other one was bigger and contained human skeletons.

The first skeleton belonged to a man, 45/50 years old. It is extremely heavy and large. On the right humerus, near the proximal edge, we found two cuts. The healed edges of the wound suggest that the man from Terqa survived after the wound was inflicted. Many muscular attachments were clearly marked on the bones and bone robustness was far above the average, which may suggest that the skeleton belonged to a warrior. These observations correspond to the fact that the bronze part of a belt together with bronze weapon-blades was found on the right side of the hip.

The second skeleton, which belonged to a female who was about 40/44 years old, was found in an anatomical position. The chamber also contained an almost complete skeleton of a sheep. The morphology of the forearm of the female suggested strenuous activity. From this skeleton was successfully isolated HVR1 fragment. The main mutation indicated that the analysed mtDNA belonged to haplogroup K. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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