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Difference in Death? A Lost Neolithic Inhumation Cemetery with Britain’s Earliest Case of Rickets, at Balevullin, Western Scotland

  • Ian Armit (a1), Fiona Shapland (a2), Janet Montgomery (a3) and Julia Beaumont (a1)

Abstract

Recent radiocarbon dating of a skeleton from Balevullin, Tiree, excavated in the early twentieth century, demonstrates that it dates to the Neolithic period, rather than the Iron Age as originally expected. Osteological examination suggests that the individual was a young adult woman, exhibiting osteological deformities consistent with vitamin D deficiency, most likely deriving from childhood rickets; an exceptionally early identification of the disease in the UK with potentially significant social implications. Isotopic analysis supports the osteological evidence for physiological stress in childhood and further suggests that the woman was most probably local to the islands. Analysis of the surviving written archive reveals that the surviving skeleton was one of several originally recovered from the site, making Balevullin an exceptionally rare example of a British Neolithic inhumation cemetery.

Différence dans la mort? Un cimetière à inhumation néolithique perdu avec le plus ancien cas de rachitisme en Grande-Bretagne, à Balevullin, Ecosse de l’ouest, de Ian Armit, Fiona Shapland, Janet Montgomery et Julia Beaumont

De récentes datations au C14 d’un squelette de Balevullin, île de Tiree, mis au jour au début du vingtième siècle, démontrent qu’il date de la période néolithique, plutôt que de l’âge du fer comme nous nous y attendions à l’origine. Un examen ostéologique donne à penser que l’individu était une jeune adulte, présentant des déformités ostéologiques consistantes avec une carence en vitamine D causée le plus probablement par du rachitisme durant l’enfance; une identification exceptionnellement précoce de la maladie au Royaume-Uni avec d’éventuelles implications sociales significatives. L’analyse isotopique appuie les témoignages ostéologiques de stress physiologique à l’enfance et de plus, donne à penser que cette femme était fort probablement native de ces îles. Une analyse des archives écrites subsistantes révèle que le squelette survivant était l’un de plusieurs recouvrés originellement sur ce site, faisant de Balevullin un exemple particulièrement rare de cimetière à inhumation du néolithique britannique.

Differenz im Tod? Ein verlorener neolithischer Bestattungsplatz für Körperbestattungen mit Großbritanniens frühestem Fall von Rachitis bei Balevullin, Westschottland, von Ian Armit, Fiona Shapland, Janet Montgomery, und Julia Beaumont

Die jüngst vorgenommene Radiokarbondatierung eines Skeletts von Balevullin, Tiree, das im frühen 20. Jahrhundert ausgegraben worden war, datiert es in das Neolithikum statt, wie bislang angenommen, in die Eisenzeit. Osteologische Untersuchungen zeigen, dass das Individuum eine junge erwachsene Frau war, die osteologische Deformierungen aufweist, die mit Folgen von Vitamin D-Mangel übereinstimmen, was sehr wahrscheinlich auf Rachitis in der Kindheit zurückzuführen ist; dies ist ein ungewöhnlich früher Hinweis auf diese Krankheit in Großbritannien mit möglicherweise bedeutenden sozialen Implikationen. Isotopenuntersuchungen stützen die osteologischen Indizien für physiologischen Stress in der Kindheit und lassen zudem erkennen, dass die Frau sehr wahrscheinlich eine Ortsansässige der westschottischen Inseln war. Eine Überprüfung der erhaltenen schriftlichen Dokumentation zeigt, dass das erhaltene Skelett eines von ursprünglich mehreren am Fundort entdeckten Skeletten war, was Balevullin zu einem außergewöhnlich seltenen Beispiel eines britischen Gräberfelds des Neolithikums mit Körperbestattungen macht.

¿Diferencias en la muerte? Un cementerio perdido de inhumación Neolítico con los casos más tempranos de raquitismo, en Balevullin, oeste de Escocia, por Ian Armit, Fiona Shapland, Janet Montgomery, y Julia Beaumont

La datación radiocarbónica de un esqueleto de Balevullim, Tiree, excavado a inicios del siglo XX, demuestra que procede del Neolítico, en lugar de la Edad del Hierro como originalmente se propuso. El análisis osteológico sugiere que el individuo era una mujer adulta joven que presentaba deformidades osteológicas relacionadas con una deficiencia de vitamina D, probablemente derivada de un raquitismo durante la infancia, se trata de una identificación excepcionalmente temprana de la enfermedad en el Reino Unido con implicaciones sociales potencialmente significativas. Los análisis isotópicos sostienen la evidencia osteológica de un estrés fisiológico durante la infancia y sugieren incluso que la mujer procedía probablemente de las islas. El análisis de los archivos escritos conservados revela que este esqueleto fue uno de los que originalmente se recuperaron en el sitio, convirtiendo a Balevullin en un ejemplo excepcionalmente raro de cementerio de inhumación del Neolítico británico.

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Difference in Death? A Lost Neolithic Inhumation Cemetery with Britain’s Earliest Case of Rickets, at Balevullin, Western Scotland

  • Ian Armit (a1), Fiona Shapland (a2), Janet Montgomery (a3) and Julia Beaumont (a1)

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