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DOES CRANIAL TRAUMA PROVIDE EVIDENCE FOR PROJECTILE WEAPONRY IN LATE IRON AGE DORSET?

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Summary

Human remains form an independent dataset with which to examine martial activity in past societies, particularly how to understand the types of weaponry used and who was subject to lethal violence. In the Late Iron Age of Dorset (first century BC to first century AD), these data are useful in understanding such activity in light of the small range of extant evidence.

This bioarchaeological study examined the crania of 80 inhumed and articulated sexed adults, using forensic, bioarchaeological and clinical criteria to determine whether osteological evidence for sharp and blunt projectiles could be observed. The sample showed evidence for peri- and ante-mortem traumas, with the majority of injuries sustained at the time of death; most affected males and were caused by blunt projectiles. Healed injuries were observed in both sexes but only females had evidence for remodelled blunt projectile injuries. The age-groups affected were predominantly young and middle-aged adults, suggesting that weapon training began early in life.

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