Concealment of pregnancy and newborn infant abandonment are closely associated with neonaticide, the killing of an infant within the first 24 h of life or less than 28-30 days depending on the jurisdiction. Abandonment of newborn infants occurs throughout the world and often the outcome for the infant is death. Together with neonaticide it is felt to be one of the least preventable crimes. In this retrospective study we present all forensically known Danish cases of abandoned newborn infant corpses, covering the period from 1997 to 2008. Eleven newborn infant corpses were found; we registered characteristics of the newborn infants and the circumstances of the cases based on autopsy reports. One further newborn infant was included, dating back to 1992, as it was found to be connected with one of the later cases. The mean age of the women who abandoned their newborn infants was 22 years, and five of the autopsied newborn infants were probably alive when abandoned. In two cases the newborn infants were half siblings and abandoned by the same mother. The time span from abandonment to when the newborn infant was found ranged from hours to 7 years. Two-thirds of the newborn infants were girls (66.6%). The most common means of disposal was in a plastic bag (~60%); only one newborn infant was wearing clothes when found. Causes of death were usually given as asphyxia, brain injury or simply undetermined. Two-thirds of the newborn infants showed signs of violence. None of the newborn infants had congenital malformations.
The objective of the present work was to detect and describe the new features characterizing the long-term stay of a corpse in seawater followed by its burial on earth. The bones of the skeletonized corpse were found to be covered with mussels and petrified sea worms that can serve as the indicators of staying the corps in seawater and its subsequent transportation from the sea coastline to the inland. These findings can be used to clarify the circumstances of death of the people found in the illegal burial places at the seacoast of maritime areas.
The purpose of this study was to examine ground sections of primary second molars and permanent first molars from the same jaws. Teeth from 11 individuals were collected from archaeologic sites in Sweden and Denmark. Longitudinal buccolingual sections were examined in a polarization light microscope and in a Philips scanning electron microscope (SEM). The seven teeth from Sweden appeared to have been subjected to environmental influences at their burial site, which had affected both the dentin and the enamel. The teeth from the Danish sites had a normal color, and no disintegration of the dentin was seen. The general morphologic appearance was normal in all primary and permanent teeth. The position of the neonatal line indicated a normal full-term gestational age. The observed accentuated incremental lines in both the primary and permanent enamel suggested periods of dietary changes, possibly related to periods of illness. SEM images of the surface area of the Swedish teeth showed an extremely porous enamel surface with severe changes in the prism structure as an effect of acid penetration. The Danish teeth did not show any marked changes in the enamel.
Finland holds a unique place in the geographical and cultural map of Europe by being situated between the East and the West. This article will offer a historical overview of Finland's death culture from the point of view of the various religious and ideological practices that reflect influence from these two sides. I also explore the factors that may explain the Lutheran Church's hegemony over death and dying in Finland.
The first objective of this study is to examine temporal patterns in ancient dog burials in the Lake Baikal region of Eastern Siberia. The second objective is to determine if the practice of dog burial here can be correlated with patterns in human subsistence practices, in particular a reliance on terrestrial mammals. Direct radiocarbon dating of a suite of the region's dog remains indicates that these animals were given burial only during periods in which human burials were common. Dog burials of any kind were most common during the Early Neolithic (~7-8000 B.P.), and rare during all other time periods. Further, only foraging groups seem to have buried canids in this region, as pastoralist habitation sites and cemeteries generally lack dog interments, with the exception of sacrificed animals. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data indicate that dogs were only buried where and when human diets were relatively rich in aquatic foods, which here most likely included river and lake fish and Baikal seal (Phoca sibirica). Generally, human and dog diets appear to have been similar across the study subregions, and this is important for interpreting their radiocarbon dates, and comparing them to those obtained on the region's human remains, both of which likely carry a freshwater old carbon bias. Slight offsets were observed in the isotope values of dogs and humans in our samples, particularly where both have diets rich in aquatic fauna. This may result from dietary differences between people and their dogs, perhaps due to consuming fish of different sizes, or even different tissues from the same aquatic fauna. This paper also provides a first glimpse of the DNA of ancient canids in Northeast Asia.
A 250-year retrospective mortality study of York Factory, on the shores of Hudson Bay, was undertaken. The daily journals of the Hudson's Bay Company and the records of the Anglican Church of Canada were the principal sources examined. From 1714 to 1801 the death rate among the Europeans was 0.015 per year, about 10 times today's level but in line with American figures of the period. The high mobility of the population during the 19th century precluded statistical assessment. In the first half of the 20th century the Europeans left; among the Cree Indians who stayed 316 out of 401 deaths were caused by infection. As in the preceding eras, tuberculosis and influenza, sometimes in epidemic form, were the most commonly diagnosed diseases. The settlement's overall mortality rate in those last 45 years was 0.03 per year, triple that for the rest of Canada in 1932.
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The objective of this study has been to confirm the sex and the affinity of an individual buried in a well-furnished warrior grave (Bj 581) in the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden. Previously, based on the material and historical records, the male sex has been associated with the gender of the warrior and such was the case with Bj 581. An earlier osteological classification of the individual as female was considered controversial in a historical and archaeological context. A genomic confirmation of the biological sex of the individual was considered necessary to solve the issue.
Genome-wide sequence data was generated in order to confirm the biological sex, to support skeletal integrity, and to investigate the genetic relationship of the individual to ancient individuals as well as modern-day groups. Additionally, a strontium isotope analysis was conducted to highlight the mobility of the individual.
The genomic results revealed the lack of a Y-chromosome and thus a female biological sex, and the mtDNA analyses support a single-individual origin of sampled elements. The genetic affinity is close to present-day North Europeans, and within Sweden to the southern and south-central region. Nevertheless, the Sr values are not conclusive as to whether she was of local or nonlocal origin.
The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions, and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period. The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies.
Clovis, with its distinctive biface, blade and osseous technologies, is the oldest widespread archaeological complex defined in North America, dating from 11,100 to 10,700 (14)C years before present (bp) (13,000 to 12,600 calendar years?bp). Nearly 50?years of archaeological research point to the Clovis complex as having developed south of the North American ice sheets from an ancestral technology. However, both the origins and the genetic legacy of the people who manufactured Clovis tools remain under debate. It is generally believed that these people ultimately derived from Asia and were directly related to contemporary Native Americans. An alternative, Solutrean, hypothesis posits that the Clovis predecessors emigrated from southwestern Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum. Here we report the genome sequence of a male infant (Anzick-1) recovered from the Anzick burial site in western Montana. The human bones date to 10,705?±?35 (14)C years?bp (approximately 12,707-12,556 calendar years?bp) and were directly associated with Clovis tools. We sequenced the genome to an average depth of 14.4×?and show that the gene flow from the Siberian Upper Palaeolithic Mal'ta population into Native American ancestors is also shared by the Anzick-1 individual and thus happened before 12,600 years?bp. We also show that the Anzick-1 individual is more closely related to all indigenous American populations than to any other group. Our data are compatible with the hypothesis that Anzick-1 belonged to a population directly ancestral to many contemporary Native Americans. Finally, we find evidence of a deep divergence in Native American populations that predates the Anzick-1 individual.
Comment In: Nature. 2014 Feb 13;506(7487):162-324522593