(ORDO NEWS) — A new study not only determined the years of life of a Neolithic representative of our species, but also showed what she looked like.
In 1909, the bones of a woman were found in the Josefinen Cave (Styria, Austria). The entrance to the cave was discovered by accident, while clearing the rubble. Entering it, people saw several human and animal bones, as well as pottery shards protruding noticeably from the partially sintered clay floor.
As a result of excavations, a brown bear skull, chamois bones, a cow’s shoulder blade, a bone tool, pottery shards, and many human bones (including the skull) belonging to the same person were found in the cave. Now the skeleton is stored in the Johannem Universal Museum in Graz (Austria).
Anthropologist Silvia Renhart and archaeologist Daniel Modl have conducted a new study of the bones of the “Styrian woman”. This is reported in a press release from the museum. Scientists combined the data obtained using the method of radiocarbon dating and methods of physical anthropology, and not only found out the woman’s age at the time of death, but also significantly clarified the time when she lived.
They determined the level of concentration of pentosidine in the dentin of the tooth. “Using this technique, which was used in a project with German researchers Stephanie Ritz-Thimme and Nina Sophie Mahlke from the Institute for Forensic Medicine at the University of Düsseldorf on historical bone samples and in the forensic examination of recent cadaver finds, the age at death can be determined exactly at 52 8 years,” reads the release. For the time when she lived, this is quite a respectable age.
In addition, soft tissue reconstruction made it possible to see the woman’s face and figure. She was short, strong and strong. Age-related changes in bones indicate well-developed muscles and high endurance. Traces of muscle attachment on the upper body, especially on the skull and bones of the shoulder and shoulder girdle, indicate that the lady’s neck muscles were well trained – apparently, as a result of carrying heavy loads. This also applies to the bones of the lower leg, which also indicates a large load on the body and overcoming long distances during life.
In addition, bone analysis showed numerous evidence of frequent periods of malnutrition due to hunger or seasonal food shortages with an almost constant lack of vitamin C, minerals and protein, which led to a weakening of the body. This, in turn, caused a high susceptibility to infectious diseases and scurvy.
In addition to determining the physical characteristics of the “Styrian woman”, as well as her age at the time of death, scientists conducted an additional study using the radiocarbon method. And here they were in for a real surprise. It turned out that the woman lived during the Neolithic period, between 3630 and 3380 BC, that is, she was older than the famous Ötzi : if the first date (3630 BC) is correct, then by as much as 300 years.
Recall that in 1991 a couple of German tourists accidentally found a mummy frozen in ice in the Ötztal Alps in Tyrol. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the Italian authorities did not respond to the message about the find, and then specialists from the University of Innsbruck (Austria) took up the extraction of the mummy from the ice and its further research.
They managed to establish that Ötzi (as the mummy was called) is the remains of a man who died at the age of about 45 years. Moreover, he was born and lived, most likely, not in the mountains, but in a valley, south of the main ridge of the Alps.
The causes of death are not completely clear: a variety of hypotheses have been put forward – from freezing in the mountains to death from wounds after a hard battle and an attempt to evacuate the body of a comrade. In 2011, scientists deciphered Ötzi’s genome and found out where his ancestors lived: on the father’s side – on the Tyrrhenian coast and Sardinia, on the mother’s side – local, from the Tyrolean Alps.
Mummy Ötzi is considered the oldest in Europe. When this information appeared in the press, the Italian authorities clarified the location of the find and announced that Ötzi had been found on their side of the border. They demanded that Austria return the mummy to Italy – however, they allowed scientists to finish their research. Now the remains of Ötzi are in the Archaeological Museum of South Tyrol in Italy.
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