Physical anthropology from Unit J7

October 2012 - C. Chaves Yates
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2012 - C. Chaves Yates

     During the 2008 J7 excavations, 3 human skulls were identified and excavated (i3, i5 and i6). All three skulls belong to sub-adults. During the excavations, Laura Ramos, the physical anthropologist also identified several human bones that were initially collected as animal bones by the excavators (see Errors page).
     The three skulls were relayed and then carefully excavated by lR and taken to the human bone lab for further analysis. At the end of the season a full analysis of the small skull of i3, had been completed. A preliminary analysis of skulls i5 and i6 were done as well.


August 25, 2008 - L. Ramos

     At the moment we are uncertain if this is a burial or isolated bone washed down from another area associated with the large brickfall. In area A16, 30 q-lots were found to contain human bones in the animal bone lots. Most of these come from a large brickfall that washed meters of bricks similar to J7 brickfall covering a funerary complex (area A15, A18, and A16). The bone q-lots for area J7 will be checked to see if more isolated bones are present. If this is an intentional burial, we expect to find the mandible and cervical vertebra only since the body runs north into the baulk.

August 26, 2008 - L. Ramos

     cJC excavated north of the cranium (i3) to the baulk and found no mandible or cervical vertebra furthermore I checked several animal q-lots and found them full of human bones including an almost complete femur and a complete mandible!! This suggests that the massive brickfall of J7 and J6 washed down human bones from presumably the east (via the slope of the brickfall seen in area J6 section (J6 k86, J6 k87), given the depth of the cranium (8819) excludes these bones as modern most likely dating to the late Khabur (Old Babylonian) period similar to A16 where funerary structures were found covered by a thick brickfall from the east that also washed down bones.

2012 - C. Chaves Yates

      As lR notes, all of the human bones from J7 are disarticulated. The skulls alerted us to the possibility of human bones in the brickfall deposits. A cursory review of the animal bone lots by lR indicated that numerous human bones were mistakenly included in the animal bone lots. The skull of i3 was found resting on a stone, but excavation revealed that this placement was not intentional but a result of mixing of materials during the brickfall.

Analysis of the Human Remains

     The J7 human remains are discussed individually by L. Ramos at the entry for each individual skull:

  • i3: human skull, estimated age 6-10 years
  • i5: human skull fragments, subadult
  • i6: human skull, subadult

  •      Additional information on the types and quantities of bones found mixed with the animal bone collections are found in q59 and q67. The remains from the q-lots include portions of a mandible, rib fragments and additional skull fragments (see individual entries for complete lists).
         All three skulls appear to be from subadults, and it is possible that i5 and i6 may be part of the same skull. Further analysis of these two items is still needed. The excavation of i3 demonstrated that the skull was disarticulated. There was no cut for a burial pit seen around the skull and no vertebrae were found nearby. The skulls were all very damaged and the nearby soil was very compact making them difficult to recover whole. Their poor preservation is likely a result of the damage sustained during the brickfall and compaction of the brickfall over time.

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