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Keep your head high: skulls on stakes and cranial trauma in Mesolithic Sweden

  • Sara Gummesson (a1), Fredrik Hallgren (a2) and Anna Kjellström (a1)
Abstract

The socio-cultural behaviour of Scandinavian Mesolithic hunter-gatherers has been difficult to understand due to the dearth of sites thus far investigated. Recent excavations at Kanaljorden in Sweden, however, have revealed disarticulated human crania intentionally placed at the bottom of a former lake. The adult crania exhibited antemortem blunt force trauma patterns differentiated by sex that were probably the result of interpersonal violence; the remains of wooden stakes were recovered inside two crania, indicating that they had been mounted. Taphonomic factors suggest that the human bodies were manipulated prior to deposition. This unique site challenges our understanding of the handling of the dead during the European Mesolithic.

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*Author for correspondence (Email: anna.kjellstrom@ofl.su.se)
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