Death in the high mountains: Evidence of interpersonal violence during Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age at Roc de les Orenetes (Eastern Pyrenees, Spain)

Miguel Ángel Moreno-Ibáñez*, Palmira Saladié, Iván Ramírez-Pedraza, Celia Díez Canseco, Juan Luis Fernández-Marchena, Eni Soriano Llopis, Eudald Carbonell i Roura, Carlos Tornero Dacasa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Objectives: To test a hypothesis on interpersonal violence events during the transition between Chalcolithic and Bronze Age in the Eastern Pyrenees, to contextualize it in Western Europe during that period, and to assess if these marks can be differentiated from secondary funerary treatment. Materials and Methods: Metric and non-metric methods were used to estimate the age-at-death and sex of the skeletal remains. Perimortem injuries were observed and analyzed with stereomicroscopy and confocal microscopy. Results: Among the minimum of 51 individuals documented, at least six people showed evidence of perimortem trauma. All age groups and both sexes are represented in the skeletal sample, but those with violent injuries are predominantly males. Twenty-six bones had 49 injuries, 48 of which involved sharp force trauma on postcranial elements, and one example of blunt force trauma on a cranium. The wounds were mostly located on the upper extremities and ribs, anterior and posterior. Several antemortem lesions were also documented in the assemblage. Discussion: The perimortem lesions, together with direct dating, suggest that more than one episode of interpersonal violence took place between the Late Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age in northeastern Spain. The features of the sharp force trauma indicate that different weapons were used, including sharp metal objects and lithic projectiles. The Roc de les Orenetes assemblage represents a scenario of recurrent lethal confrontation in a high mountain geographic context, representing the evidence of inferred interpersonal violence located at the highest altitude settings in the Pyrenees, at 1836 meters above sea level.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24909
Pages (from-to)e24909
Number of pages35
JournalAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology
Volume184
Issue number1
Early online date28 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • lithic projectile
  • metal weapons
  • paleopathology
  • perimortem trauma
  • Pyrenees

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