Egypt, Dakhleh, Kellis, Anencephaly, Neural Tube Defect, Bioarchaeology
The inclusion of human fetal skeletons in the archaeological record can reveal much about past cultures' perception of life and death. The preservation of fetal remains in the archaeological record is a rarity, and the discovery of pathological skeletons is even rarer. A fetal skeleton from a Roman period cemetery (c. 31BC - 303AD) in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, displays what are thought to be classic skeletal indicators of the neural tube defect, anencephaly. The published literature concerning the skeletal diagnosis of anencephaly is scant so in order to diagnose this individual it is pertinent to create a diagnostic standard. The purpose of this thesis is twofold - first to create a quantitative standard from which researchers can determine the presence of anencephaly in the archaeological record, thus ruling out trauma or taphonomic processes as reasons for missing cranial elements. The second objective of this research is to conduct a qualitative comparison in order to diagnose the individual from the Dakhleh Oasis. A comparative analysis of nine documented anencephalic skeletal remains housed at the Smithsonian Institute was conducted to create a diagnostic standard for the skeletal characteristics of anencephaly. The comparative analysis of the Dakhleh specimen supports the diagnosis of anencephaly.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Mathews, Stevie, "Diagnosing Anencephaly In Archaeology: A Comparative Analysis Of Nine Clinical Specimens From The Smithsonian Institution Nation" (2008). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 3437.