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

Mednikova M.B. (Moscow, Russian Federation)


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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 ulture, Early Mediaeval, palaeopathology, radio-ulnar stenosis, radiology, micro-tomography.


Funding. The article has been written within the State Projects No. -18-118011790092-5.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 29.05.2020

Article is published: 28.08.2020


Mednikova M.B.

Institute of archaeology RAS, Dm. Ulyanova st., 19, Moscow, 117292, Russian Federation