The anthropological analysis of the 10–11th century ad human skeletal remains at the southern part of the Danube–Tisza interfl uve (Szeged-Algyő and Sándorfalva-Eperjes sites)


Marcsik Antónia, Just Zsuzsanna, Szalai Ferenc

MŐT Kiadványok 4.(2015) 377–418.

DOI 10.55722/Arpad.Kiad.2015.4_08


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Most of the 77 skeletons from the Algyő site are incomplete and are in a poor state of preservation. There are signifi cantly more males than females, possibly due to more male casualties of military actions or because of incomplete representation of the sexes. The 104 skeletons from the Sándorfalva site are also incomplete and fragmentary. In this cemetery there were fewer males than females. Although the complete cemetery was excavated, these remains most likely do not represent the entire population. Taxonomic determination of both skeletal series reveal Europid components, primarily Pamirian and Cromagnoid types. These taxonomic results are consistant with data of other populations from the Great Hungarian Plain dating to the 10–11th centuries. There is no signifi cant difference between the mean statures in these two series. Based on archaeological observations, inheritable anatomical variations and biochemical-serological results, the skeletal remains from the Algyő site suggest burial in family groups. The great variety and number of traumas (fractures and joint dislocations) primarily found on male skeletons are consistant with battle injuries suffered during fi ghting. Of special interest are the pathological lesions found on their skulls which could represent symbolic or incomplete trephinations or healed head injuries. The most frequent joint diseases were the degenerative changes of vertebrae (degenerative spondylitis) in both sexes, mainly found in middle aged and elderly individuals. One case of ankylosing spondylitis was identifi ed and another skeleton showed characteristics of polyostotic fi brous dysplasia. The latter individual’s cranium shows two pathological lesions, the possible result of incomplete or symbolic trephination. The surgical intervention was probably done with the aim to cure the person’s severe bone disease. Bone effects of anemia (pittings on the roof of the orbit – cribra orbitalia) were present, but only on three individuals (two infants and one adult female) showing serious forms of the disease. Traumatic insult on skeletons in the Sándorfalva series — in contrast to the Algyő series — were much less frequent and far less severe. No signs of trephination were found. Two severe, but partially healed, cases of osteomyelitis should be considered important, as well as a few cases of early bone tuberculosis. The incidence of degenerative joint diseases were present in a frequency similar to the Algyő series. Hematologic (porotic hyperostosis) and metabolic (osteoporosis) bone changes were present, but in small numbers. Effects of repetitive muscle strain (entesopathies) were found on skeletons in both series and were mainly localized to the bones of the lower limbs. This might have been a result of long term horse riding or as a result of squatting, a frequent position in everyday life. It can be assumed that the Algyő individuals were mounted horsemen and pursued fi ghting practices, while the Sándorfalva population’s agricultural pursuits could have played a more signifi cant part in their life. Despite their different lifestyles, the Algyő and Sándorfalva populations shared the same ethnicity.