Fossilized skull reveals incidence of homicide during Upper Paleolithic period

Paleolithic studies conducted by researchers at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany and a team from Greece and Romania discovered a fossilized skull, shedding light on existence of violence during the Upper Paleolithic times.

The skull belonging to an adult man was discovered originally in a cave of South Transylvania and is known to be about 33,000 years old. A prominent trauma on the skull, in other words, a large fracture on the right of the cranium stimulated the curiosity to study whether the fracture occurred during the time of the adult’s death or as part of a postmortem event.

For further investigation, researchers conducted trauma stimulations by means of twelve synthetic bones spheres. The study also probed falls from heights, single or double blows from rocks or through bats. Moreover, the skull was inspected from both visual and virtual angles, by means of computed tomography.

The results revealed that the skull had two injuries at or near the time of death; a linear fracture at the base of the skull and a depressed fracture on the right of the cranial vault. Furthermore, the type of injuries also indicated that they were caused due to consecutive blows, from a bat –like object. Moreover, the injury was a case of depressed fracture resulted from a face-to-face confrontation. The study also revealed that the predator might have used his left hand for striking. According to a report by researchers, the injury was not a case of an accident, post mortem or a fall.

The authors suggest that the injury was a case of intentionally caused violent death, adding furthermore that homicide was not uncommon during the period of Upper Paleolithic. According to a statement released by authors with regards to the incidence of homicide during Paleolithic times, it says, “The Upper Paleolithic was a time of increasing cultural complexity and technological sophistication. Our work shows that violent interpersonal behaviour and murder was also part of the behavioural repertoire of these early modern Europeans.”

The study of the Paleolithic adult, also known as Cioclovina calvaria, was published in the journal PLOS ONE on July 1.