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Death by twins: a remarkable case of dystocic childbirth in Early Neolithic Siberia

  • Angela R. Lieverse (a1), Vladimir Ivanovich Bazaliiskii (a2) and Andrzej W. Weber (a3)

Death during childbirth was a significant risk for women in prehistoric and pre-modern societies, but it has rarely been documented by archaeology. The evidence for twins in the archaeological record has likewise been largely circumstantial, with few confirmed cases. Maternal mortality in childbirth is often obscured by the special ritual practices associated with this type of death. In the case of twin births that difficulty is compounded by past social attitudes to twins. The earliest confirmed evidence for obstructed labour comes from the burial of a young woman who died attempting to deliver twins in the middle Holocene hunter-gatherer cemetery at Lokomotiv in southern Siberia some 7000 to 8000 years ago.

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