Pathologies during the Iron Age - A comparative study of human remains from Switzerland

Moghaddam, Negahnaz; Arenz, Gabriele; Müller, Felix; Hafner, Albert; Lösch, Sandra (September 2018). Pathologies during the Iron Age - A comparative study of human remains from Switzerland. In: European Association of Archaeologists. 24th Annual Meeting. - Abstract Book Vol. II (p. 910). European Association of Archaeologists

The large amount of Late Iron Age burial sites in Switzerland (450 to 15 BC) represents an important source for bioarchaeological studies. This research focused on anthropological and paleopathological data to gain insights into living conditions, social structures, and socio-economic differences in Iron Age Switzerland. In total, 179 individuals from six regions were included. Sex and age at death were estimated and pathological alterations such as dental diseases, non-specific stress markers (cribra orbitalia), and trauma were investigated. Additionally, comparative analyses to other sites and time periods were conducted. The data showed an overall low frequency of infants, while the poor preservation of small infant remains should be taken into account. For Iron Age Switzerland, a caries frequency of 38% was observed with no significant differences in the caries intensity between males and females. In Münsingen, however, the higher caries intensity in females (6%) compared to males (4%) might reflect a different diet, also supported by isotopic studies. Research on diachronic changes of caries intensities, from the Neolithic to the Modern period, showed an increase over time due to rising amounts of carbohydrates and sucrose in the diet. In total, 17% of all individuals with at least one observable orbit showed signs of cribra orbitalia indicating that Iron Age populations suffered from multiple stress-factors. Skull lesions, representing an intentional blow, were mostly observed in males (5/6). Sex differences in skull injuries could be indicative of interpersonal violence. From archaeological records and written sources, it is known that violent combats were part of the everyday life during the Late Iron Age.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Hossein Moghaddam Horri, Negahnaz, Arenz, Gabriele, Müller, Felix (C), Hafner, Albert, Lösch, Sandra


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




European Association of Archaeologists




Albert Hafner-Lafitte

Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2019 12:30

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:36


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