Антропологичен анализ на костни останки, открити в археологически обекти от България. Разкопки 2015 г.

Anthropological analysis of skeletal remains excavated from archaeological sites in Bulgaria. 2015 excavation season

  • Borislava Galabova Laboratory of human bioarchaeology, 42 George Washington str., 1202 Sofia
  • Nadezhda Atanasova National anthropological museum, Institute of Experimental Morphology, Pathology and Anthropology with Museum in Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 25 bl. Akad. Georgi Bonchev str., 1113 Sofia


During the excavations campaign 2015 we carried out anthropological analysis of human skeletal remains unearthed at 13 sites. The studied burials cover the period from the first half of 4th millennium BC to the Ottoman period.

The summary anthropological results covered the investigation of 127 individuals, discovered in 115 archaeological features are presented in the current article (fig. 1, 2). The bone remains were found in burials by cremation and by inhumation (table 1, fig. 3, fig. 6).

The cremated bones are highly fragmented in the result of the combustion. The fragments are very small (less than 1 cm), small (1-2 cm) and medium (2-5 cm) sized. The majority have light grey, greyish-white, matt white and white colours. This colouring indicates that the combustion of the buried individuals was made intensely on strong fire over/around 1000°C by a large influx of oxygen (open fire).

In the necropolis near the village of Baley, Bregovo Municipality, the remains of four individuals are identified in the feature (No. 62), dated in 12-11 BC (Vârtop culture). In the preserved skeletal remains, eight petrous parts of temporal bones were recognizing, as well as three distal femoral parts. The analyses established that they belong to three subadults: a baby around six months, a child approx. 6-year-old and a child between 7 and 14 years, as well as of an adult female, over 30 years (fig. 5). A total of 2243 grams cremated skeletal remains are preserved. This gives us reason to suppose, that the deceased persons had been burnt, collected and placed in the urns simultaneously. After the cremation process the bone fragments have been placed in four pottery vessels.

The archaeological sites in which the inhumation was practised are ten (fig. 10). The buried remains are preserved in different grade according to the influence of environmental factors, secondary grave destructions and to the type of intake food by individuals.

The anthropological analysis is indicating a high mortality in early childhood (up to 7 years) through all investigated periods. The mortality decreases during late childhood and adolescence and increases sharply in the age group of Adultus when it reached its peak. This trend is most clearly expressed in the investigated burials from the LBA-EIA and the Antiquity (5th c. AD). Only one case of elderly (over 60 years) was identified among the examined anthropological material from the Hellenistic necropolis in Mesarite locality, town of Sozopol.

At this stage of researches distribution between two sexes is almost equal, with a slight predominance of males. In the females, the death was occurred at an earlier age between 20 and 40 years (Adultus), while for males – more often in a mature age between 40 and 50 years. This tendency can to be bound by complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

The absolute distribution of stature by categories shows that the high male individuals prevail (fig. 11). In females dominate those with medium stature (fig. 12). Very short and short individuals were not recognised in both sexes. These indicators point for a good physical development of individuals in their lifetime, especially of the males.

Out of the 91 analysed inhumated individuals at 75 are preserved partly or entirely jaw bones and dentition. The high percentage of established dental and facial pathology is noteworthy, registered in 53 cases (70.66%). The percentage distribution of the dental pathology is presented in Table 2.

Dental caries and its complications prevail in percentage ratio, including leading to the antemortem tooth loss. The frequency of this kind of diseases is increased by age, as for mature age group (over 40 years) are typical the effects and the complications of caries – tooth cysts and partial antemortem tooth loss. Data from this study and also the results of research of other authors suggest that over the centuries the frequency of dental caries is gradually increasing. This fact can be explained mainly by the changes in diet and type of food intake.
Pathological changes on different skull departments dominate in earlier epochs (4th mill. BC and the EBA) as a result of metabolic and nutritional diseases that are especially dangerous in children since they lead to a breach in normal growth and development.

Pathological changes affecting postcranial skeletons are meeting in 43 inhumated individuals (Table 3). The high rate is for the degenerative-destructive changes on the limbs, as well as insertionitis. These two types of diseases may be associated with an intensive physical activity of individuals.

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