Paleopathology, Fetal skeleton, Dakhleh Oasis, Congenital abnormalities, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Neural tube defect, skeletal aging


The present study evaluates two fetal individuals (B532 and B625) from the Kellis 2 cemetery (Roman period circa A.D. 50 A.D. 450), Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, that display skeletal anomalies that may explain their death. Both individuals exhibit bowing of the long bones in addition to other skeletal deformities unique to each individual. To assess these pathologies a differential diagnosis based on the congenital occurrence of long bone bowing is developed. Long bone bowing is selected because it is the more prevalent abnormality in the paleopathological literature and the other abnormalities are not as easily identifiable in the literature. For the purposes of this study, the differential diagnosis is defined as a process of comparing the characteristics of known diseases with those shared by an archaeological specimen, in the anticipation of diagnosing the possible condition. It is expected that the differential diagnosis will assist in providing a thorough assessment of each skeleton and yield a possible diagnosis for the condition(s). Macroscopic and radiographic analyses are used to document and examine the bone abnormalities for each individual and compare the results with the developed differential diagnosis. Results suggest that the bent long bones of B532 were caused by osteogenesis imperfecta whereas the cause of the bent long bones of B625 is not clear. Further analyses of B625, including the pathologic abnormalities of its skull, suggest that the neural tube defect iniencephaly with associated encephalocele was the likely cause of the observed skeletal abnormalities. The abnormalities of the long bones complicate estimations of the age-at-death of these two individuals, thus the pars basilaris bone was used to assess age estimation. A population sample of 37 Kellis 2 fetal individuals allowed for the development of linear regression formulae of the pars basilaris measurements for long bone length estimates and a comparison of which would provide the most accurate age estimate. Finally, the diagnoses of the fetal specimens are considered in relation to the cultural aspects and disease pattern of the Kellis 2 cemetery


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Graduation Date



Dupras, Tosha


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

December 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)