Mednikova M.B.

Rare congenital anomaly among population of the Migration Period (based on excavations in the Eastern Aral region)

This paper aims to introduce into scientific discourse the information on unique pathological features observed in the individuals of the Jetyasar archaeological Culture buried in the necropolis of Altyn-Asar 4. In the course of examining the extensive paleoanthropological collection of the human remains (more than 600 individuals) of the Jetyasar Culture from the excavations of the Kwarism Expedition of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the Eastern Aral region, three cases of a rare skeletal anomaly have been discovered, which is manifested by forearm synostosis. In the modern medical literature, slightly more than 350 of such cases have been reported. Radioulnar synostosis severely restricts the movements of pronation and supination (ulnar adduction and deviation) by fixing the radial and ulnar bones in a single possible position. Methods of differential diagnostics have been used in description of the skeletal features, alongside the digital micro-focal radiography and microtomography. There is evidence to suggest congenital form of the above maldevelopment in the Early Medieval Eastern Aral region. Although this pathology may lead to partial disability, its bearers, attributed in the context of the Je-tyasar Culture, were fully socially adapted and each of them had sufficiently long life by the expectancy of the time. Radioulnar stenosis has been identified in a 3034-year-old male from the grave no. 326.1 of the burial ground of Altyn-Asar 4l and in two 2529-year-old females from the burial ground of Altyn-Asar 4r (graves nos. 345 and 454.2). The former case is the earlier one, no later than the 4th c. AD according to the archaeological data. By the context of this multiple-body burial, this individual was married and might have carried the congenital pathology onto his descendants. The burial of the married woman with the same pathology in the burial ground of Altyn-Asar 4r (no. 454.2) was made later in the last third of the AD 6th c., according to the planigraphy and AMS radiocarbon date for a neighbouring kurgan. The latest grave no. 345 of the same burial ground, according to the results of the direct dating (UGAMS#43733 1450 ± 20 years BP), is distant in time from the previous case by one generation and corresponds to the beginning of the 7th c.

Key words: Eastern Aral region, Jetyasar archaeological Ñulture, Early Mediaeval, palaeopathology, radio-ulnar stenosis, radiology, micro-tomography.


Kufterin V.V., Karapetian M.K.

On the differential diagnosis of vertebral ankyloses in paleoanthropological material: an example of the Early Iron Age case from the Lower Kama region

Differentiating various pathological conditions involving the spine, particularly those leading to vertebral ankylosis, is a challenging task both in paleopathology and clinical practice. The Introduction summarizes cases of ankylosing spondylitis (Bekhterev’s disease) and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (Forestier disease) from the territory of former USSR. In this regard, it is important to mention that, having different etiologies, DISH and seronegative spondyloarthropathies have different reconstructive potential. It is assumed that the increase in DISH prevalence may be associated with an increase in life expectancy and characteristics of the group’s nutritional status, while spondyloarthropathies – with endogamy, increased population density due to sedentary lifestyle and the intensification of agriculture. It is noted that differential diagnostic procedure has been reported only in few Russian-language publications that deal with the topic. This often leads to the statement of not quite justified paleopathological diagnoses. This paper presents results of paleopathological study of a 2540-year-old male skeleton from burial 183 of the Novo-Sasykul cemetery, dated to the 1st2nd centuries AD. The site is located in the Lower Kama River region (Bakalinsky District, Republic of Bashkortostan) and attributed to the Pyany Bor Culture. The study is focused on differentiating pathological conditions that lead to vertebral ankylosis on skeletal remains. Principal pathological changes, recorded on the skeleton from burial 183 of the Novo-Sasykul cemetery, were: 1) ankylosis of five consecutive thoracic vertebrae (T7–11) with right-sided ossification of the anterior longitudinal ligament and 2) bilateral fusion of the sacroiliac joints. Possible diagnoses include seronegative spondyloarthropathies (ankylosing spondylitis, reactive and psoriatic arthritis), diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), rheumatoid arthritis, and degenerative changes (osteoarthritis). The differential diagnosis based on macroscopic (morphological) indicators allows suggesting a diagnosis of DISH, possibly associated with a spondyloarthropathy and minor degenerative changes in the spine. Ankylosing spondylitis is certainly excluded from the spectrum of probable spondyloarthropathies. It is noted, however, that specific diagnosis requires an X-ray exa-mination. As a guideline for the specialists, the need for careful differentiation between different pathological conditions leading to ankylosis of vertebral segments is emphasized. The latter is important, since reporting ill-considered diagnosis may severely complicate the use of the published data in bioarchaeological reconstructions.

Key words: Lower Kama region, Pyany Bor Culture, paleopathology, differential diagnosis, spondy-loarthropathies, DISH.


Karapetian M.K., Leybova N.A., Sharapova S.V.

Late Bronze Age anthropological materials from the Nepljuevski kurgan cemetery

The body of works on craniological and paleoodontological analyses of the materials from the Bronze Age sites of the Southern Trans-Urals still has not clarified the question of the genesis of the people who lived in this area. This is partly due to fragmentary state of the available materials, so that publication of new data appears highly relevant. This paper deals with the results of craniological and dental analyses of an osteological sample from two kurgans of the Nepljuevski burial ground, excavated between 2015 and 2017 by a Russian-German archaeological expedition. The burial ground is located 300 km south-west of Chelyabinsk city, in Kartalinsky district in the steppes of the Southern Trans-Urals. The recovered materials are dated to the Late Bronze Age and attributed to the Srubnaya-Alakul Culture variant. Materials and methods. Metric description of 5 male and 6 female crania is given. The dental sample comprised remains of 14 children and adolescents and 12 adults. Standard craniometric and paleoodontological protocols were used. Statistical procedures included principal component analysis (PCA) for craniometric traits and correspondence analysis for odontological traits. Results. Generally, the crania show morphology characteristic for the European (Caucasian) groups. The male crania are homogenous in such traits as narrow, vividly protruding nose and a pronounced horizontal profiling. The sample is dominated by individuals with a high facial height. Females and males generally show morphological similarities, but females, on average, have a relatively higher braincase, wider and lower orbits, a relatively wider nose, and slightly less pronounced horizontal profiling. The odontological analysis is in line with the cranoimetric data indicating European ancestry. One of the distinct characteristics of this sample is the presence of «enamel pearls» — a usually rare trait in 5 out of 12 individuals, which may indicate an increased percentage of biological relatives in it. Conclusion. Overall, the crania from kurgan 1 find analogies among gracilized high-faced forms widespread in Southern Urals and Kazakhstan during the Bronze Age, often linked to the southern ancestry. The attribution of the Nepljuevski sample to the circle of gracile forms is indicated by the results of odontological analysis, which revealed its proximity to the Tripolye culture sample.

Key words: Southern Ural, Late Bronze Age, Srubnaya-Alakul cultural type, craniometry, paleoodontology.