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Stabbed to death: an osteobiography example of violence among Longobards (Povegliano Veronese, Italy, 6th‑8th c CE)

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Micarelli, ileana 
zeppilli, carlotta 
bernardini, sara 
profico, antonio 
di giannantonio, stefania 


Here we report the reconstruction of the osteobiography of an adult male buried in the Longobard cemetery of Povegliano Veronese (Northern Italy, late 6th – early 8th century CE), who shows signs of interpersonal violence. The palaeopathological investigation reveals sharp force traumas on the body of the fourth lumbar vertebra and on two right ribs. The absence of signs of healing or bone remodelling indicates that the defects were perimortem. The injuries probably affected vital organs, leading to death. Further macroscopic observations of the skeleton suggest horseback-riding activity. Strontium isotope data from tooth enamel indicate a non-local origin of the individual. X-ray and CT scan acquisition and Scanning Electron Microscopy analyses were performed to investigate the bone defects. His osteobiography was interpreted and contextualised in the complex socio-political scenario of post-classical Italy. The results document that he spent his childhood outside the Povegliano Veronese area, that during his life he was likely a horseback rider active in battle, but that his violent death did not happen during warfare/battle. This multi-layered approach, supported by archaeological information, osteological investigation, biomolecular analysis, and virtual imagery, allowed for the extensive reconstruction of an individual's life history



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Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

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Horizon Europe UKRI Underwrite MSCA (EP/X024512/1)