Trauma in the Krapina Neandertals

Violence in the Middle Palaeolithic?

Authored by: Virginia Hutton Estabrook , David W. Frayer

The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415842198
eBook ISBN: 9781315883366
Adobe ISBN: 9781134677979


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Since their discovery, the Krapina Neandertal bones have served as models for Neandertal morphology and behaviour (Radov?i? 1988). The Krapina rock shelter, dated ~130 kyr ago (Rink et al. 1995), was excavated under the direction of Gorjanovi?-Kramberger from 1899 to 1905, and he published extensively on the discoveries at the site (Gorjanovi?-Kramberger 1906; Frayer 2007). In addition to extensive discussion of the anatomy of the remains, he described evidence for trauma and speculated on its causes (Gorjanovi?-Kramberger 1908, 1913; Radov?i? 1988). At the site, five cranial fragments preserve blunt force trauma lesions with two showing extensive healing. In addition to the cranial trauma, one clavicle has a long-healed fracture, an ulna shaft has a large fracture callus, and one ulna terminates in what appears to be an amputation stump. Most modern interpretations have focused on occupational hazards, lifestyle and/or accidents as likely explanations for many cases of Neandertal trauma (Berger and Trinkaus 1995; Underdown 2006; Mann and Monge 2006). Older arguments (Roper 1969; Keith 1928; Dart 1953) claimed head wounds and other bone traumatic injuries were signatures of homicides, but all are extensively healed and the injuries represent traumatic episodes that occurred long before death.

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