Sex selection in late Iberian infant burials: Integrating evidence from morphological and genetic data

Cristina Afonso, Dominika Nociarova, Cristina Santos, Cristina Martinez-Labarga, Imma Mestres, Montserrat Duran, Assumpció Malgosa

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Abstract

© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the infant burials found inside Iberian homes in relation to a possible case of sex selection. Methods: The study included the remains of 11 infant individuals buried under the 10 houses excavated in the late Iberian village of Camp de les Lloses (Tona, Barcelona, Spain). Sex was determined using genetic analysis. Results: Our results showed that almost all the burials were females. However, the age interval of death was wide enough to weaken the premise of infanticide, and the burials probably represent cases of natural death. Discussion: Infanticide in its different forms has long been argued as an explanation for the infant remains found throughout various burial sites. Many authors thought that infanticide, mainly femicide, was the main method of population control in ancient times. However, there is no anthropological evidence (age distribution and sex analyzed genetically) to support the intentional killing of females in this or in other cases. We hypothesized that there was a positive selection for females to be buried inside the houses, probably related to their benefactor roles.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23204
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

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