- by S. De Luca, J. Viciano, J. Irurita, S. López-Lázaro, R. Cameriere and D. Botella
“The skeletal remains of an adult female have been exhumed in an 11th century tomb in the mediaeval Jewish cemetery of Ronda Sur, in the city of Lucena (Córdoba, Spain). Examination of the skull and mandible revealed evidences of bilateral condylar fracture and dislocation. Lesions were observed macroscopically and radiology was used as a complementary method of scrutiny, especially in cases of unclear observation. Irregular morphology of the condyles and coronoid processes, shallow glenoid fossa, altered and abnormal joint surfaces anterior to the glenoid fossa, and reduced height of both ascending rami were observed. Ante-mortem tooth loss, slight wear of occlusal surface and asymmetrical occlusal deposit of dental calculus were found. Radiologically, degenerative changes in the condyles and reparative bone in both coronoid processes have been identified. Dislocation of the condyles and lack of adequate treatment probably led to disruption of masticatory patterns and related structures, such as muscle attachments, articular disc and ligaments. Bilateral remodelled fracture and the altered appearance of the joint structures could probably mean that the individual survived the injury by several years. This type of fracture could be the consequence of direct blow to the mental or submental region that was transmitted in a direction that raised the mandible, causing the condylar head to collide directly with the mandibular fossa. Very few mandibular fractures in ancient skulls have been described in Spain, and this case is the first example found in a Spanish archaeological skeletal assemblage” (read more/open access).
(Open access source: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 23:485-504, 2013 via Academia.edu)
Trepanation (also trephination) as seen in paleopathological research from around the world. Many of these examples show extensive evidence of healing, meaning that the individual lived after the procedure. This is considered to be one of the oldest medical practices in human history, originating at least 9/10,000 years ago.
The patterning language of bone
went to the fleamarket today, and there’s a fellow who sells a lot of animal parts, including a ton of bones, little taxidermied things, etc. at any rate, this is one of the greatest things I’ve ever gotten from him.
it’s a raccoon baculum. that’s a penis bone. and that strange formation in the middle suggests something:
this bone was broken, and then healed.
so, basically, a raccoon somewhere broke his bone and then lived to bone another day.
and with that, my first post into the vulture culture tag. hi.
Steal a Skull, Understand a Genius
On May 31st, 1809, famed composer Joseph Haydn died, and he was soon buried in a simple ceremony—but his peaceful rest would not last long. Five days after his interment, a friend of his dug up his body and cut off his head. Joseph Carl Rosenbaum kept a detailed dairy chronicling his theft, noting that when he got into the carriage after severing the head, it smelled so bad that he almost vomited. It wasn’t until 11 years later, when Haydn’s body was to be moved to a different grave, that the authorities discovered that while the composer’s body remained in the coffin, all that was left of his head was the wig he was buried in.
As strange as this may sound, Haydn is far from the only man to have had his head stolen. When Mozart was buried in a mass grave, the cemetery’s rector tied a piece of wire around his neck so when the cemetery was retrenched he could correctly identify—and take—the skull. Painter Francisco Goya’s skull was swiped some time in between his death in 1828 and his exhumation in 1898. Philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg’s skull was stolen by naval officers after his death in 1772. British polymath Sir Thomas Browne’s head suffered a similar fate. Though short-lived, this trend of cranioklepty was a kind of obsession—the desire to acquire and understand a person’s life through their skull.
You won’t find much about the theft of Haydn or Mozart or Goya’s skulls in their biographies. Historians tend to nod quickly at the fact that their heads were stolen, and move on to the less gory details of their lives. Not writer Colin Dickey. “I’m fascinated by things that nobody likes to talk about,” says Dickey, who authored Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius. The book makes clear that cranioklepty, a term Dickey coined, is not merely a quirk of history—it actually tells us a lot about how people thought about human brains and bodies in another era.
Skull of a male babirusa, a genus of pigs native to Indonesia. The tusks on older males can grow so long that-without being worn down-they pierce the skull!
Free sphenoid e-bookSo I just came a cross this
Photo of the Week: Skeleton Parade
Animal bones can be some of the most unsettling objects around and while most museums have the courtesy of displaying them in peaceful, innocuous scenes and poses, Paris’ Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy (Galerie de paléontologie et d’anatomie comparée) has decided to arrange their collection as though the animals are trying to run visitors down. This skeletal stampede was captured by Atlas Obscura user philoursmars, who found the whole experience made him a bit introspective:
It was in winter, but the day was shiny, so the place was full of light. What strikes me when I take a look at this picture is the contrast. Contrast between death and life, the walk from the dark to the light. ‘Where are they going to?’ one might ask. Contrast between the threat of the skeletons and the calm of their pace. In other words, contrast between their movement and their stillness.
This marvellous website is a free database of great ape, fossil, and modern human teeth raw data developed and managed by Jean-Luc Voisin. He’s a supporter of open access science and is interested in contributions of data to the website. Jean-Luc’s contact details are on the front page and I encourage you to contact him if you’d also like a platform on which to share your data!
Normal? No! The pre-vertebral soft tissues are too thick in the upper cervical spine. This person had no history of trauma but had severe pain. Diagnosis was retropharyngeal abscess! Remember “7 at 2 and 2 at 7” for maximum normal pre-vertebral soft tissue thickness. 7mm at C2. 2cm at C7. A good one to remember.
- by Mikoláš Jurda, Petra Urbanová and Miroslav Králík
“Post-mortem distortion resulting from the pressure of overlying sediments (i.e. grave backfill) is one of the taphonomic factors capable of altering the geometry of buried and subsequently recovered skeletal remains. If pressure distortion is a frequent occurrence, it could systematically flaw the outcome of an anthropological examination. To study the patterns of post-mortem distortion in buried crania and shape alterations associated with a specimen’s in situ position, 46 male crania recovered from an Old Slavic graveyard (Pohansko, Czech Republic) were analysed together with control specimens from four modern European osteological collections (N=207) using geometric morphometrics. The results indicate a common pattern of shape change in buried skulls associated with their in situ orientation. However, as the overall shape variation between the Old Slavic crania (which, with their tendency towards longer, narrower shapes differed markedly from the modern Czech crania) oriented in situ on their back and side reflects the duality of dolichocranial and brachycranial forms, it seems likely that the in situ positioning of the crania stemmed from their original morphology. The lack of substantial effect of the in situ orientation on the cranial morphology is associated with a larger cranial size and a tendency for sturdiness in the Old Slavic subsample. Both of these characteristics are likely to be contributing to the resistance of these crania to taphonomic alterations” (read more/open access).
(Open access source: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, in press 2014 via Academia.edu)