Human Osteology and Palaeopathology

Photo:Dr Eileen Murphy analysing SK 331, a skeleton with multiple osteochondromas

Human osteology, the scientific study of human skeletal remains has the potential to reveal exciting insights into the physiques, health status, diet and lifestyles of past populations. A full palaeopathological analyses was undertaken on the Ballyhanna skeletons. The adults (n=869) were analysed by Ms Catriona McKenzie, Project Osteoarchaeologist, with the assistance of Ms Róisín McCarthy, Research Osteorchaeologist. The non-adult remains (n=432) were examined and recorded by Dr Eileen Murphy, Senior Project Osteoarchaeologist, with the assistance of Ms Clare McGranaghan, then of the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, QUB. A biocultural approach was adopted in the analyses of the individuals from Ballyhanna. The biological data were analysed with reference to the cultural background which was identified through a study of the historical and archaeological evidence for Gaelic Medieval Donegal.

SK 325 Peri-mortem sharp force trauma on the left parietal and occipital
SK 487 Dental calculus and a periapical lesion
SK 566 Lytic lesions in T9, T12 and L1- probably caused by tuberculosis
SK 671 Metastatic neoplastic lytic lesions in the left and right parietal
SK 939 Compound fracture of the left femur with secondary osteomyelitis
SK 1242 Possible trepanation