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Keywords:

  • occupational injury;
  • spinous process;
  • vertebral trauma;
  • stress fracture;
  • thoracic vertebrae;
  • palaeopathology;
  • Roman Imperial Age

Abstract

An archaeological case of clay-shoveler's fracture was observed in an adult male exhumed from a Roman necropolis dated to the 1st–3rd century AD and located in the city of Barcelona, Spain. Clay-shoveler's fracture is a breakage of a lower cervical or upper thoracic spinous process as a result of mechanical stress. Different mechanisms have been related to this injury, generally in labour-related contexts. This paper reviews the literature concerning this uncommon finding, focusing especially on its mechanism and on activity-related lesions. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.