Skeletal Indicators of Intentional Violence and Injuries in Late Antique and Medieval Populations from Croatia

Anita Adamić Hadžić


The transition from the Late Antique (2nd–5th century AD) to the Medieval period (6th – 11th century AD) in Croatia is documented in historical sources as catastrophic with destruction of urban centers, social collapse, and increased interpersonal violence. In order to investigate the accuracy of these reports, an analysis of the frequency and patterning of bone traumas in two composite skeletal series from these time periods was conducted. A total of 1121 adult skeletons - 674 from the late antique (LA) and 447 from the medieval (MED) series were examined. In order to differentiate between intentional violence and accidental injuries, fracture frequencies were calculated for: the complete skeleton, individual long bones, the craniofacial region, as well as by type of injury (perimortem vs. antemortem).

The results of this analysis show a clear increase in total fracture frequencies when calculated by skeleton, in ‘parry fractures, radial injuries, ulnar fractures, as well as of individuals exhibiting a single skeletal indicators of intentional violence. These data highlight the complexities associated with trauma analysis and imply that factors other than intentional human violence contributed to the increase of fracture frequencies recorded in the medieval period.  


paleopathology, intentional violence, trauma analyses, Croatia, perimortem trauma

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