Kufterin V.V., Dubova N.A., Syutkina T.A.

Intragroup analysis of new craniometric data from the ancient Panjakent nauses

The article discusses new cranial materials excavated at the ancient Panjakent necropolis in 2003–2004. The crania were found in ossuary burials in nauses (small separate crypts) dating from the late VII to the early VIII centuries AD. The materials of the study include 19 crania of various preservation statuses (7 males, 11 females and one non-adult individual). The present study aims to compare the newly obtained cranial data with the already published samples to see whether they are consistent with the current knowledge about the specifics of the crania from ancient Panjakent nauses. Furthermore, the new materials increase the sample size, which allows for an intragroup statistical analysis to be applied — the maximum overall number of observations in the pooled sample has increased to 42 (data published by Ginzburg in 1950-s included). Besides from the craniometric part, we also recorded non-metric traits and visible pathological conditions, which are not discussed separately in the paper. The intragroup analysis of variability included both univariate (standard deviations, the F-test of equality of variances, correlation analysis) and multivariate statistical methods (Principal component analysis). In general, the increase in the sample size has not changed its anthropological characteristics described almost 70 years ago. This was a sub-brachycranial Caucasoid population with average-sized neuro- and facial cranium, moderate horizontal profiling, and moderate nasal bones protrusion. Statistical analyses seem to support the previous typology-based assumptions about the presence of at least two morphological variants within the sample that differ mainly in the cranial index. The Principal component analysis results reveal that the crania from particular nauses cluster closely to each other, which is consistent with the hypothesis of these nauses possibly being family burials.

Keywords: biological anthropology, craniometry, Early Medieval period, Central Asia, Tajikistan.


Karapetian M.K.

On đaleoepidemiology of spina bifida sacralis: prevalence of the anomaly in Late Scythians of lower Dnieper region

Spina bifida is a developmental anomaly that is thought to be caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. Though the most significant association was found with the folic acid deficit during early embryogenesis, numerous genetic variants were also found to be in some association with the development of neural tube defects, but this data is inconsistent. It is still debated whether the unremarkable anomaly (spina bifida occulta) often observed in osteological samples is truly a form of neural tube defects forming in early embryogenesis, or is a minor variation that is forming later in postnatal life. Also, data is equivocal regarding the neurological consequences of sacral spina bifida occulta, some pointing to its clinical significance, others stating that it does not affect the wellbeing in any way. Though paleopathological studies on spina bifida are numerous, the frequency of the anomaly remains largely unknown for the Early Iron Age population of the Eurasian steppes. This study examines presence of sacral spina bifida in a Late Scynthian sample (3rd c. BC — 3rd ń. AD) from the northern Black Sea region. Totally, 89 skeletons were examined, originating from cemeteries near Nikolayevka and Zolotaya Balka villages (Kherson Oblast, Ukrain). These cemeteries are located along the Dnieper river bank about 90 km apart. The people they represent were settled agriculturalists. The defect was scored when either or all of the three upper sacral vertebrae were affected (S1–S3), its level was recorded. Totally, 16 % of individuals were affected. The majority of defects were observed solely on S1 level. Only two cases of spina bifida sacralis totalis were recorded. The frequency of the anomaly was not significantly different either between males and females, or between younger (<35 years) and older (>35 years) adults. In two instances, two individuals buried in a common grave both had spina bifida sacralis which may point to a biological relationship between them. The frequency of spina bifida sacralis is very close to the mean values, reported in the literature. Thus, no evidence of an increased selection against individuals in this group with this form of skeletal anomaly, or a significant impact of environmental factors, leading to its development in ontogenesis, is present. Also, contrary to literature data, it seems that in this sample age and sex were not the factors significantly contributing to the trait’s variation, though the age dynamics of this trait needs further consideration using a sample with higher proportion of senile individuals.

Keywords: Northern Black Sea region, Early Iron Age, spine anomalies, neural tube defects, nonmetric traits.


Vasilyev S.V., Bulgin D.V., Simavonyan K.V., Borutskaya S.B., Emelyanchik O.A., Oganesyan A.O., Kartashov S.I., Chichaev I.A.

Experience in the study of paleopathology of the spine using computed tomography and radiography

In this paper, an interesting case of spinal pathology is considered. In 2015, under the supervision of V.V. Cherevko, archaeological excavations were carried out on the territory of a cemetery near the village of Vaskovichi, Glubokoye district, Vitebsk region (Republic of Belarus). In the course of the archaeological excava-tions, two burials were discovered, which date back to the end of the 19th century. The remains from the burial 2 belonged to a relatively young male, lying on his back with his hands stretched down and the spine unnaturally curved in the lumbar region. To diagnose the pathological change, computer tomography and radiography of the spine of the man, who lived about 150 years ago in the countryside of Belarus, were applied. The scanning of the object under study was carried out at the Resource Center for Nuclear Physics Research Methods using X-rays on a 40-slice PET-CT tomograph. Radiography was carried out at the Research Institute of Medical Primatology. The most likely cause of this pathology was tuberculous spondylosis — unstable compression fractures of the bodies of the ninth through to the twelfth thoracic vertebrae and fusion of the resulting bone mass with the body of the first lumbar vertebra. As a result, a kyphotic bone conglomerate was formed in the area of transition of the thoracic to the lumbar spine. There was osteomalacia of the bodies of the corresponding thoracic vertebrae. The torso became bent. When the person was standing, his head should have been at the level of his pelvis. It is hard to imagine how this person could move around, care for himself, and have a normal life. The disease proceeded, most likely, without serious neurological disorder. The fact of the chronic course of the deformity indirectly testifies in favor of the latter, and, accordingly, for the gradual progression of the deformity it is necessary that the spine was in an upright position, that is that the person could walk a little, at least sit, not being bed-ridden or paralyzed.

Keywords: computed tomography, radiography, spine, spinal cord, vascularization.