SE Niebuhr and SG Sheridan.  (1998).  Vertebral Pathology from a Byzantine Judean Monastery.  Abstract, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Supplement 26:170.


This project is part of a larger investigation into life in a 5th century monastic community from Jerusalem.  Due to the ossuary burial-style, the bones were separated by type. The vertebral elements are the focus of this poster.

Of more than 15,000 skeletal elements removed from a single repository in the crypt complex, 1,275 vertebra were examined.  One hundred sixty nine of these belonged to juvenile individuals.  There were no pathologies in the subadult vertebrae, and they were thus removed from any further analysis.

The 1,106 adult vertebral elements included an assortment from all five regions of the spinal column, cervical to coccygeal.  The minimum number of individuals (MNI)  ranged between 35 and 56, depending on the region of the vertebral column examined.  The most reliable count was from the axis (C2), with an MNI of 51.

Analysis of these vertebrae indicates a generally healthy life for most individuals, with normal age-related degenerative changes.  Striking exceptions include five sets of fused vertebrae from the cervical and thoracic regions, spina bifida occulta, and cut marks on cervical vertebrae two and three of a single individual.


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