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Anthropological report excavations of Islamic Necropolis of Tauste


Miriam Pina Pardos, Anthropologist

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12 skeletons exhumed, 9 adults and 3 children.

The "El Patiaz" Tauste (Zaragoza) Cultural Association has conducted a new archaeological tasting Conget Bishop Avenue location, in the area of ​​research of the existing Muslim necropolis at that location. This campaign continues the excavations in the previous two years with the same objective.

This time, 12 skeletons have been exhumed, the incomplete majority, there 9 that match adults and 3 children individuals. Like individuals exhumed in previous campaigns, orientation and form of burial, toward Mecca, in lateral decubitus without trousseau, ratify membership of the remains to an Islamic necropolis.

Nine of the twelve correspond skeletons found three women and six men, all adults and middle-aged general, only one of them would be below 40 years. The nine have in common a marked oral pathology, abscesses, fistulas, caries, tartar buildup and calculations. They are also seen in most osteoarthritic signs, especially in the vertebral bodies. Furthermore, there are markers physical activity related bending of the arms, crouch and long walks.

As for the children's skeletons, two of them would be around 2 years and the third would be slightly higher, between 2 and 4 years.

During the excavation the existence of two burial levels was observed. One of the skeletons belong to the deepest layer, which would be the oldest. It is the remains of a male individual aged between 25 and 35 years. Being the oldest skeleton, is much worse preserved than the rest, has since suffered severe wear by the action of the ground.


The most important feature of the exhumed remains is the presence of a burr in one of the male skeletons, aged about 45 years. It is a trephine for boring, branded wound impinges on the skull surface. Regeneration of skull indicates survival, although there are signs of further infection. Trepanation is a technique practiced since ancient times and their presence indicates an intervention for surgical purposes or rituals.

Positions regarding the current results of this analysis with exhumed in past archaeological tasting, it is concluded that all remains are skeletons racial group Caucasoid and provide common pathologies, especially periodontal disease, marked in most skeletons adult individuals, with plenty of tooth wear caused by strong masticatory activity and the absence of proper dental hygiene at the time.

Anthropological analysis

 The anthropological study has identified sex, age and height in most preserved skeletons. According to the study, this is the summary of the remains exhumed and their characteristics.


3-A male skeleton with a height between 1.60 and 1.65 meters and an approximate age of 45 years. The most important feature is the presence of a trepanation in the left parietal, by drilling, circular and presence groove incision tool. The edges are beveled and there regeneration perimeter, indicating recovery life. The porosities in the adjacent area trepanation indicate any post infection, perhaps because wound, which could correspond to a osteomyelitic injury. At the head of the tibia and femur abscesses appear compatible with osteomyelitis.


trephine 1trephine 2

 Trepanning of the skull, by drilling technique with survival. Trephination and possible injury osteomyelitic

1- A female skeleton with a height of 1.60 meters and a range comprised between 45 and 60 age years. The remains have own degeneration of the elderly. Signs of arthritis in the vertebrae, as well as signs and ulna enthesopathies phalanges due to marked activity upper limb. Periodontal disease is also appreciated, as well as tooth decay, calculus and enamel hypoplasia.


caries and dental calculus

 vertebral wear

Caries teeth and stones.                vertebral wear

2- A male skeleton, of which only the lower half is retained, with a height between 1.60 and 1.62 meters. can not be aged with existing residues, but have degeneration typical of the elderly, with signs of arthritis in the femoral neck and the femoral condyle facet associated with settled activity crouch.

osteoarthritis femur head

Arthrosis in the neck of the femoral head

 4- A skeleton male, with a height between 1.58 and 1.62 meters and and an age range between 40 and 45 years. It presents periodontal disease, alveolar recoil and tooth wear. Markers in bone of the upper limb reveal marked physical activity. There are also signs of arthritis in the vertebrae and thorns in both kneecaps, corresponding to crouch and walks.

kneecaps and calcaneusupper arch

Osteophytes calcaneus and patella.           Upper arch showing alveolar setback for periodontal disease

5- male skeleton with a height ranging between 1.60 and 1.65 meters, and an age of 40 to 50 years. Like the previous frame, it has a marked dental disease, besides vertebral pathology presence crushing and herniation.

wear with herniationdisc wear

Intervertebral wear with herniation.                Crushing with disc wear.


7- A female skeleton, with a height of 1.58 meters and an age between 33 and 45 years. Also it presents oral pathology, caries and tartar buildup and signs of arthrosis metacarpals and lumbar vertebrae.


 crushing and osteophytes

Squashing and osteophytes (espiculosas excrescences) in the vertebral bodies.

9- A skeleton with robustness members belonging to an individual male with a height between 1.72 and 1.76 meters and an age of 33 to 45 years. The paleopathological analysis reveals marked activity of elbow flexion. The remains also present degeneration own age and atrósicos signs in the vertebrae and the heads of both femurs.

perifoveal exostosis

Exostosis Perifoveal for osteoarthritis

10- A male skeleton, of the upper limb, with a height between 1.62 and 1.65 meters, and an age range between 25 and 35 years retains only. Also it presents oral pathology, fistulas and cavities in addition to spinal wear and deflection in the dorsal spinous process suggesting some form of scoliosis.

 spinous process

Nodule vertebral body and deviation of the spinous process.


11- A female skeleton, which can not determine the height, aged between 33 and 45 years. As in other skeletons of mature age, lumbar crushing and enthesopathies phalanges observed in physical activity by limb. The most prominent disease is oral caries and tooth wear to loss of the crown. Furthermore, the existence of an (additional) Ectopic tooth shown.

 premolars and ectopic tooth

Wear premolars and ectopic tooth.

6- A child skeleton, indeterminate sex, with approximate height of 98 cm and an age between 2 and 4 years.

8- A child skeleton, which is not possible to determine gender or height. Dental analysis determines an age around 2 years.

12- A child's skeleton, which can not be determined sex or stature. It is the youngest individual tasting: the dental study determines aged between 18 months and 2 years.

This analysis complements in 2011 after the second tasting held in the same location of Tauste. The aim of the Cultural Association "The Patiaz" is continuing its promoter work to move forward in the investigation of the Muslim necropolis of the town, indicating an intense occupation of space in this area.

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