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Can commingled human remains be useful in reconstructing life during the Neolithic? A case study from Xemxija, Malta.

Author(s): Chloe Sinclair

Year: 2015

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Osteological material has historically been underexploited in archaeological research.  This is most directly true of commingled assemblages which present an exclusively difficult challenge to bioarchaeologists.  The commingled assemblage here examined is the result of the episodic usage of rock-cut tombs, advanced in post-mortem fracture, and disruption during transport and storage. The aim of this study is to reconstruct skeletal profiles, age, sex, and pathological demographics through the analysis of a commingled Neolithic assemblage from Xemxija, Malta. Using well established skeletal recording systems and emerging methods dedicated to the complications inherent in commingling, roughly 10,000 fragmented elements were recorded. High levels of fragmentation rendered traditional osteological assessments impossible. Where conventional research methods could not be applied, the assemblage provided samples of Neolithic Maltese pathology, evidence of burial customs, and a high survivorship of juvenile remains. This study addresses the limitations of data accessible when working with high levels of fragmentation, and endeavors to highlight information such assemblages can provide.

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Can commingled human remains be useful in reconstructing life during the Neolithic? A case study from Xemxija, Malta.. Chloe Sinclair. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398225)


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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America