List of Abstracts
Guido Agresti: The Offering Heads from the Deposit of Sector Y2-EXP178of Cahuachi, Nasca, Peru. Osteological Analysis and Cultural Interpretation
Georgina Bond: What can we learn about Sheffield residents of the past, from their human remains and associated funerary archaeology, through museum exhibition?
Emily Carroll: Inferno: Cremation practices in Roman Hertfordshire
Hilton Drube et al: Paleopathological Studies of Pre-Columbian Populations From Northwestern Argentina
Jolien Gijbels: The physical and spiritual lives of the unborn
Aleksandra Grzegorska: Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna: useful way to determine sex and age of deceased from archaeological excavation?
Erin Johnson: Uses of Human Body Parts in Sixteenth Century English self-help medicine
Agata Kaczyńska et al: Study of the morphology of right ventricular outflow tract with the use of silicone heart models
Sotiria Kiorpe: Commingled entities: the secondary manipulation of the dead in Early Bronze Age House Tomb 5, Kephala Petras, Siteia, Crete
Bethan Linscott et al: Isotopic analysis of Solutrean and Magdalenian human remains from Gruta do Caldeirão (Estremadura, Portugal)
Rikke Nerli & Anna Chausée: The effects on the taphonomic process in biological samples embedded in concrete
Sophie Newman et al: Growing Old in the Industrial Age: a bioarchaeological analysis of two elderly females from 18th-19th century Manchester
Ricardo Ortega Ruiz et al: Physical and Forensic Anthropological analysis performed on Individual 1A of burial number five from the necropolis of “Cortijo Coracho”, Córdoba, Lucena, Spain dated in the Late Antiquity. A case of homicide?
Janet Philp: William Burke, Now and Then
Clair L. Richardson: Childbirth in Early Medieval Romania: A case study of human skeletal remains recovered in Transylvania
Keith K Silika: Zimbabwe blood diamonds, from mine shafts, oesophagus, clandestine burial to European High Streets
Elizabeth Torrico-Avila: Reconstructing the memory of Caravan of Death in Calama-Chile
Satu Valoriani & Matteo Borrini: Restitutio ad Integrum: the potential of fragmented skulls reconstruction. An example from a Gloucester Medieval collection
Ashleigh Wiseman et al: Mesolithic life along the Sefton coast as revealed by fossilised footprints
The Offering Heads from the Deposit of Sector Y2-EXP178of Cahuachi, Nasca, Peru. Osteological Analysis and Cultural Interpretation
University of Warsaw
The study investigates a group of 12 offering heads (cabezas ofrenda) discovered accidentally during the construction of toilets for the visitors of the archaeological area of Cahuachi (Nasca, Peru). The archaeological site is interpreted as the theocratic capital of the Nasca Culture. With an area of 25 square kilometres it is considered the largest ceremonial site in adobe in the world.
The deposit in question is of interest because it is the biggest deposit of this kind observed in Cahuachi.
Ritual heads of any kind are defined as having an artificially enlarged foramen magnum and a hole drilled in the frontal bone. All the crania of this study have an expanded foramen magnum due to the high level of modifications on most frontal bones could not be observed, however one individual showed a frontal bone fragment with the characteristic hole drilled into it. On the basis of these features the deposit’s heads were classified as ritual.
Commonly ritual heads are considered by scholars as trophies, but this interpretation underestimates the complexity of these objects in Nasca society. The use of the word trophy implies the idea of warfare or gaming. The best example in support of this theory is the Cerro Carapo assemblage of 48 masculine heads showing evidence of warfare related trauma. The site belongs to the same culture and it is relatively close to Cahuachi however it differs in significant ways from the cache discussed in this study: in Cahuachi there is no indication that the individuals were warriors.
This study is of interest because it illustrates the need for a broader and more nuanced approach in the interpretation of ritual human heads to fully understand their social use and spiritual significance in Nasca culture. On the basis of this study new lines of research on the subject can be developed.
What can we learn about Sheffield residents of the past, from their human remains and associated funerary archaeology, through museum exhibition?
University of Sheffield
Debates about the ethical implications of exhuming, storing and displaying human remains are found across many different industries. The field of archaeology deals with these debates on a regular basis. This research will use existing exhibits and museums to create an understanding of the types of successes and controversies, exhibitors have to deal with. The relevant legislation will be analysed alongside the ethical principles and these will be used to draw conclusions for the study. A questionnaire was conducted to gauge local public opinion about the display of human remains and associated funerary archaeology from the city of Sheffield. The overall response was positive towards displaying human remains and the proposed exhibit and the public comments are used to evaluate choices for display and how successful it would be in Sheffield. Evaluations will draw historical information, the running of museums and ethical and legal considerations together, with direct relevance to Sheffield. The exhibit design will make recommendations for Weston Park Museum in how this proposed exhibit could fit in with their future improvement plans and will also create stronger links between Weston Park Museum, Sheffield General Cemetery and the Archaeology department at the University of Sheffield.
‘Inferno: Cremation practices in Roman Hertfordshire’
University of Reading; University of Bristol
Cremation was the primary funerary rite in Hertfordshire from the 1st century AD to the 3nd century AD until it was replaced by inhumation practices. Over 30 cremation cemeteries from the region have been identified and excavated within the last 80 years, demonstrating a complexity of funerary rites that deviate from those seen in the surrounding counties of Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire. While many of these sites have been examined extensively, most have been considered in insolation with little comparison across cemeteries. This paper will present results from an analysis of 6 cremation cemeteries, both rural and urban, uncovered across modern day Hertfordshire. Grave and pyre good inclusion, as well as collection strategies and body representation is explored through bone identification and fragmentation, while new modes of scientific analysis including FTIR-ATR and histomorphometry are used to calculate firing temperatures. The discussion will focus on the use of integrated bioarchaeological approaches to cremations, and how they can further our understanding of this funerary rite in Roman Hertfordshire.
Paleopathological Studies of Pre-Columbian Populations From Northwestern Argentina
Drube, Hilton ˡ ²; Silvera, Elina ˡ; Martínez, Susana ˡ; Desántolo, Bárbara ³; Dulout, Luis ˡ, Lamenza, Guillermo ³ 4
ˡ Universidad Nacional de Catamarca; ² Universidad Nacional de Santiago del Estero; ³ Universidad Nacional de La Plata; 4 Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas
Studies in Paleopathology have significantly contributed to the understanding of the ancient ways of life of the human groups that inhabited the Americas in times prior to the arrival of Europeans. The prevalence of pathological conditions in pre-Columbian populations is vital in anthropological studies, since they permit the reconstruction of social behavior of ancient societies, including their status of nutrition and health, and the size and density of their settlements. The general aim of this paper is to present the results of studies in the field of paleopathology, which was conducted on human remains from pre-Hispanic aboriginal settlements located in the Hualfín Valley in the province of Catamarca and in the middle basins of the rivers Dulce and Salado in the province of Santiago del Estero, in northwestern Argentina. The chronological context of these archaeological sites spans between the tenth and sixteenth centuries AD. The skeletal sample includes 110 individuals of both sexes and different categories of age. Ethnohistorical sources reveal the existence in the region of large villages at the moment of contact, with a significant density of population, which is consistent with the data obtained from the archaeological record. The evaluation of diseases, using macroscopic and radiological techniques, reveals in this sample the existence of trauma and inflammatory lesions, joint injuries and metabolic and oral disease. The anomalies evaluated in the present study constitute an important contribution to the history of human pathologies, since they add evidences concerning the presence of ancient diseases in human groups from the mountainous and flat regions in northwestern Argentina during pre-contact times.
The physical and spiritual lives of the unborn
In recent decades, scholars such as Lynn Morgan and Sara Dubow have shown how the development of embryology has shaped understandings of unborn fetuses as social subjects from the nineteenth century onwards. Through tangible embryological collections, physicians did not only ‘materialize’ embryos and fetuses as scientific specimens, they also disseminated the idea that the unborn life started from the moment of conception after which it further developed through several embryological stadia. In those medical studies on the unborn, as well as in scholarship on pregnancy and childbirth, however, less attention has been paid to the impact of religion on medical conceptions of the unborn.
This paper will address the mutual influence of materialist and religious approaches to fetuses in medical debates in nineteenth-century Belgium. By focusing on the performance of post-mortem caesarian sections, it will foreground the negotiations between Liberal and Catholic physicians on the one hand, and legal experts on the other hand. Whereas Liberal physicians were especially devoted to these operations to deliver living babies, Catholic physicians stressed their importance to baptize the unborn fetus as a means to save its soul. Yet, practitioners of caesarean sections felt threatened by possible legal proceedings. Legal experts were divided on this matter, because of the absence of clear-cut laws on this practice in the civil code. Against the backdrop of medical professionalization and the ideological tensions between Catholics and Liberals in the second half of the nineteenth century, physicians were increasingly opposed to post-mortem caesarean sections for religious purposes. By focusing on religious, Liberal and legal arguments in medical debates, this paper will identify the changing position of the unborn fetus.
Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna is a rare disease which causes overgrowth of bone tissue inside of the skull, mostly in the inner plate of the frontal bone. Unfortunately it is impossible to determine the presence of this illness without X-ray or a crack in the skull that allows to look inside. Usually Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna is connected with virilism and obesity. Some scientist connect its etiology with diabetes, thyroid disorders, acromegaly, pregnancy. Probably due to a change in level of hormones, this disease mostly affects women after menopause.
The aim of this paper is to present the current state of knowledge about Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna and ways to recognize it in bone assemblages. It will be also shown how this disease can help anthropologists to estimate sex and age of decease. I will evaluate why and when it could be especially useful for diagnosing bones coming from archeological excavation. And which kinds of tests should be performed on the ancient skeletons. Discussed will be the information about health that can be retrieved after confirmation of the presence of Hyperostois Frontalis Interna. Shown will be also the reason why cases of this disease are still underreported.
Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw
Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna: useful way to determine sex and age of deceased from archaeological excavation?
This poster argues that human body parts, or mumia, served as one of many ingredients for medical practitioners.
The idea of using mummy in medicine has historically held a stigma and negative association in medicine. In contrast to these views, the use of human substances in sixteenth-century English medicine suggest that views of the human body did not hold a revulsion or stigma, but served a purpose, like other remedy ingredients.
Whilst the use of herbs, animal parts and mineral far outnumbered mumia as remedy ingredients, a selection of sixteenth-century medical manuscripts and printed remedy books show that human substances had a place in the arsenal of professional and non-professional medical practitioners. This poster compares and examines the use of human body parts in medical remedies by a selection of six sixteenth-century private practitioners and four medical professionals, to see how they used body parts in their medicines and what it suggests about the sixteenth-century medical view of the human physical body.
Uses of mumia in sixteenth century English self-help medicine
Study of the morphology of right ventricular outflow tract with the use of silicone heart models
Agata Kaczyńska, Adam Kosiński, Miłosz Zajączkowski, Marek Grzybiak
Department of Clinical Anatomy, Medical University of Gdańsk
Right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT) is an area which is a part of an outflow path of blood flowing through the right ventricle during the cardiac cycle. RVOT covers the space between the supraventricular crest and the pulmonary valve. Detailed knowledge of the morphology of the RVOT is a crucial aspect in the procedures of pacemakers implantation and ablation of arrhythmogenic foci in RVOT area. What is more, accurate knowledge of the structures surrounding the RVOT can help to optimize the appropriate course of treatment and minimize the risk of complications.
Tests were made on the hearts of adults without visible pathological changes. Hearts were fixed in formalin solution. Silicone molding was used to make the internal heart models which were fully cured after 24 hours. Before performing model, the hearts were thoroughly rinsed in water to flush out the formalin and the residual blood clots. After preparing a mixture of silicon with an activator, the molding was poured into the heart ventricle in two ways. The first method was silicone application by 100 ml syringe through the right ventricular free wall into the chamber. In the second method, the apex of right and left ventricle was incised, and then was applied directly silicone into the chambers. In both cases, the heart was placed in a dish with the apex up in order to best fulfill the RVOT and pulmonary trunk. After 24 hours, the silicone model was taken out by cuts made along the upper and lower edge of the heart.
The obtained models can be used in a precise examination of the morphology of the RVOT. Heart internal models can not only help in determining right ventricle structure, but also in examining the exact boundaries of the RVOT.
Commingled entities: the secondary manipulation of the dead in Early Bronze Age House Tomb 5, Kephala Petras, Siteia, Crete
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The intentional commingling, manipulation, circulation and re-deposition of human remains are common in Early Minoan mortuary practices. Excavations at the cemetery of Kephala Petras at East Crete and the study of the commingled human assemblage from the Early Minoan House-Tomb 5 shed new light on the different modes of manipulation of skeletal remains, reveal the degree of interaction with the dead and seek to approach the bodily ways in which the living community tried to negotiate on the one hand the dead and on the other its own identity by the creation of a mnemonic landscape. The gathering of human bones while fully or partly decomposed, the limited but existent use of fire probably for defleshing fresh body parts, the circulation of skeletal elements between the rooms of the tomb and the curation and re-burial of the bones indicate the existence of a multi-stage and complex funerary ritual. House-Tomb 5 was used for the burial of an MNI of 56 individuals (both sexes and all age categories are present) for c. 300 years. The continuous and prolonged use of family tombs in a communal cemetery most probably manifest the need of the living to continuously discuss their position in the community rather than an ancestral cult. In light of this evidence multi-stage funerary practices should be approached as more complex phenomena that apart from their ritual connotations conceal social strategies and processes of change.
Isotopic analysis of Solutrean and Magdalenian human remains from Gruta do Caldeirão (Estremadura, Portugal)
Bethan Linscott [a,b*], Thibaut Devièse [a], Alistair Pike [b], Rick Schulting [a], João Zilhão [c]
[a] Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, [b] Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, [c] Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Barcelona
The Pleistocene cave deposits of Portuguese Estremadura provide some of the richest collections of Upper Palaeolithic human remains in western Iberia. As human remains of this age are relatively rare in Iberia south of the Pyrenees, those that survive are invaluable sources of biogeochemical information. Isotopic analysis of skeletal remains permits the study of subsistence, seasonality and landscape use of individuals, and can offer insights into the subsistence adaptations of human groups to oscillating climatic conditions of Late Pleistocene Europe.
Gruta do Caldeirão is a cave site which lies close to the Nabão river, approximately 140 kilometres northeast of Lisbon within the Tertiary and Quaternary terrain of the Tagus River valley, Estremadura. Between 1979 and 1988, excavations at the site yielded a substantial collection of Upper Palaeolithic human remains. Faunal accumulations in the basal levels are primarily attributed to carnivore occupation during Oxygen Isotope Stage 3, but in the Upper Palaeolithic deposits, large carnivores appear to be replaced by humans as the principal occupants of the cave. Based on faunal and lithic assemblages, it has been suggested that the cave may have been utilised by its human inhabitants as a seasonal occupation site; perhaps functioning as a short-term camp associated with the repeated exploitation of seasonal prey resources.
Despite the characteristically poor preservation of Pleistocene skeletal remains at many Iberian sites, Solutrean and Magdalenian human bones and teeth from Gruta do Caldeirão appear to be relatively well preserved, providing a rare opportunity for the study of subsistence and seasonality across the Upper Palaeolithic at the molecular scale. This poster reports preliminary bulk collagen carbon (13C/12C) and nitrogen (15N/14N) isotope data for a range of Late Pleistocene fauna and five Upper Palaeolithic humans; two of which were recovered from Solutrean levels and three of which are attributed to the Magdalenian. Results suggest that the dietary protein of these individuals was derived primarily from terrestrial resources such as rabbit, red deer and ibex and horse, with variable inputs from aquatic sources.
The effects on the taphonomic process in biological samples embedded in concrete
Rikke Nerli and Anna Chausée
University of Winchester
To date, differential decomposition within various types of concrete is an area that has received little attention within academic literature. This study draws upon previous work carried out by Gibelli et al (2013) and seeks to answer whether concrete containing high levels of the hydraulic material, silica dioxide (SiO2), have the same qualitative effect on the taphonomic process as concrete containing only silicon dioxide, aluminium oxide and calcium oxide (SiO2+Al203+CaO). Six pigs’ heads were embedded within two types of concrete: B35 MF40 STD 16MM RED and B45 SV40 STD 16MM (plus a surface decomposition acting as a control). These samples were left embedded for 10, 17 and 35 weeks before manual recovery. This experimental study was carried out to qualitatively assess if there are any alterations in the decomposition rate in concrete containing a hydraulic material like silica fuel, with the main component silica dioxide (SiO2), as concrete containing pulverised fuel ash with the main components silicon dioxide, aluminium oxide and calcium oxide (SiO2+Al203+CaO). Preliminary results suggest a more rapid decomposition rate in B35 MF40 STD 16MM RED which contains SiO2.
Please note: Due to formatting constraints, chemical formulae may not appear accurately. Apologies for any inconvenience.
Growing Old in the Industrial Age: a bioarchaeological analysis of two elderly females from 18th-19th century Manchester
Sophie Newman , Katie Keefe , Malin Holst , Anwen Caffell [1,2], Rebecca Gowland 
 York Osteoarchaeology,  Department of Archaeology, Durham University
Ageing is associated with a multitude of degenerative biological changes leading to potentially debilitating conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and loss of hearing and/or sight. Chronic pain and impairment can lead to increased frailty, a loss of independence, social isolation and disempowerment. Historical evidence suggests that elderly females the 19th century may have been similarly marginalised. However, this subject has yet to be explored within bioarchaeological research, in part due to the neglect of the elderly demographic within the broader discipline of archaeology.
Analysis of two 18th-19th century cemetery sites from Manchester identified two adult women, aged 88 and 64 years based on associated coffin-plates. Both individuals exhibited osteological evidence of severe osteoporosis and degenerative joint changes, alongside a suite of injuries. These injuries may have resulted from accidents, in combination with the heightened fragility of the senescent skeleton. However, given the fact that multiple injuries in different stages of healing are present, a differential diagnosis of spousal/elder abuse is also considered.
Palaeopathological analysis of these two individuals enables a unique insight into the lives of the elderly in the 18th-19th century. Such analysis facilitates a discussion of the multitude of adverse social factors (such as the lack of a systematic pension scheme, and the reliance on spousal/family care or the workhouse for care and support) that likely impacted on the health and wellbeing of ageing women during this time.
Physical and Forensic Anthropological analysis performed on Individual 1A of burial number five from the necropolis of “Cortijo Coracho”, Córdoba, Lucena, Spain dated in the Late Antiquity. A case of homicide?
Ricardo Ortega Ruiz , Daniel Botella Ortega , Juan Pablo Dieguez Ramirez 
 Department of Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology of the Instituto de Formación Profesional en Ciencias Forenses  Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Lucena
The main aim of the communication is to present a possible case of homicide after the analysis of individual 1 A of burial number five, buried in the necropolis of “Cortijo Coracho”, Lucena, Córdoba, dated between the 4th and the 8th centuries B.C., in the Late Antiquity of present Spain. In this sense, all the analytical process has been performed by the usage of criminological profiling, as well as forensic and physical anthropology.
Current studies show the body of a male aged between twenty and thirty years, according to the erosion of the dental wear and the shape of the auricular surface of the os coxae, who developed a remarkable joint disease in the spine and hip joint.
But the main feature that the individual presents is a trauma on the left side of the frontal bone affecting also the parietal, over the left eye. It shows a fracture done by a sharp but blunt edged object, mixing a cut surface and a posterior drag, probably causing the death of the individual.
William Burke, Then and Now
The culmination of four years of research, this project sees the retelling of the classic Burke and Hare story but from the perspective of Burke's skeleton in it's home of the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh. The recently published book, Burke Now and then, is the most readable version of the true story and every fact in the story is fully referenced in the second section of the book which traces details back to primary and secondary references.
The presentation itself looks at some of the background researchs details in more depth; the origins of the story about their being grave robbers, the facts about Burke's reported testicular cancer and the existence of descendants that get us right down to the present day.
Further work outlines a more likely story about Mary Paterson, one of their more famous victims, who was always portrayed as a prostitute because this image suited the press at the time.
There is evidence that seems to imply that Burke was a regular drug user, tying the Irish serial killers to the London Burkers who drugged their victims and whose capture led to the passing of the 1832 anatomy act which changed how bodies were supplied to the medical schools for ever.
The identity of the man who smuggled Burke's second confession out of prison is uncovered and the extraordinary story behind his court case and sentence adds more layers to the original story.
Childbirth in Early Medieval Romania: A case study of human skeletal remains recovered in Transylvania
Clair L .Richardson [1,2], Anastasia Brozou , Mihai Gligor 
 1 Decembrie 1918 University, Alba Iulia,  Liverpool John Moores University
Complications in childbirth are considered to have been a frequent cause of death for women and foetuses during the Middle Ages. The high risks of labour in connection with the lack of successful medical intervention must have been a fatal combination. Nevertheless, evidence of maternal and foetal death during childbirth in medieval times is scarce.
The skeletal remains belonging to a female of around 19.5 years of age and an individual of approximately 32 weeks in utero were recently recovered during a rescue excavation on a hilltop site in Transylvania. According to C14 analysis the remains belong to the early medieval period (7th – 8th cent.), a period that saw the mass migration of peoples within the Central and Eastern European regions. This could provide evidence as to explain the absence of a grave cut and proper burial, which was indicated by lack of soil colour variation. The absence of artefacts around the skeletal remains also point to this theory.
Childbirth is considered to have been connected to the cause of death of the two individuals, due to the position of the adult skeleton and the location of the foetal remains. Many of the foetal post-cranial elements were recovered externally to the pelvis, while cranial elements were located within the iliac fossa of the adult skeleton, indicating a likely breech birth. Additionally, the posterior dislocation of the sternal end of the right clavicle of the adult may have also contributed to the complications during childbirth.
The present discovery constitutes a rare case that appears to shed light on maternal and perinatal death in early medieval Romania.
Zimbabwe blood diamonds, from mine shafts, oesophagus, clandestine burial to European High Streets
Keith K Silika
In early 2006, Marange District, Eastern Zimbabwe thousands of unemployed local artisanal miners invaded a pegged mining field belonging to a private company with encouragement from the state. Both the state and invaders underestimated the amount of alluvial diamonds present in the field which at one point peaked at 12m carats in 2012. When the state, through well-connected politicians, police and Central intelligence realised the scale of the find, they sent in army and police to chase out the illegal miners with police dogs, poisonous spray, and firearms. This resulted in the death of over 200 people in a short period although the exact number of people killed is not known up until today. There is a known mass graves dug by the army in 2008 in Dangamvura cemetery containing the remains of about 200 people. This did not deter would be miners who continue go to the fields despite heavy security presence. A known modus operandi used by paners was to enter the fields working in cohorts with army and police personnel, mine some diamonds then swallow a handful and submit the rest when passing through check points. When the security personnel wised up to this method, they often detained the paners for days until they passed out the diamonds and some were shot and killed trying to escape. Despite human rights reports about these abuses the Kimberly Process (KP) has allowed the sale of these diamonds which end up on European high streets. Whilst the set-up of the fields has changed the president of the country even admitted recently that the country lost over $15bn worth of diamonds in the fields and no one has been brought to account for it.
Due to taphonomic factors skeletal remains are often recovered fragmented from archaeological contexts. When an informative anatomical area such as the skull is incomplete or broken, this may affect comprehensive analysis for both biological profile and trauma interpretation, as well as the conservation and display of the remains.
The authors propose a method to reconstruct human bones based on a Medieval collection from Gloucester (115 adult individuals) which is stored at Liverpool John Moores University. The project was created to allow craniometric population studies on a promising sample, unfortunately affected by taphonomic fragmentation. These reconstructions will guarantee not only a better conservation of the skulls, but also enable more comprehensive examination (e.g. anthropometry, CT scan, facial reconstruction) and a possible museum display.
After cleaning the remains, B-72 paraloid glue mixed with acetone is used to place the fragments together. Wax is applied to reconstruct the missing parts and stabilise the cranium. As an example of good practice, all the compounds used are reversible and the reconstruction steps are documented by photographs.
The final result of the project is a collection where the human remains are completed, more resistant to damages and fragmentation, and where the samples can express their potential for research, teaching and displaying.
Restitutio ad Integrum: the potential of fragmented skulls reconstruction. An example from a Gloucester Medieval collection
Satu Valoriani, Matteo Borrini
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University
Mesolithic life along the Sefton coast as revealed by fossilised footprints
Ashleigh Wiseman , Isabelle De Groote , Thomas O’Brien 
Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Paleoecology, Liverpool John Moores University,  Research Institute for Sports and Exercise Science, Liverpool John Moores University
Fossilised footprints have long held a fascination in anthropological studies. They can inform upon social behaviour and gait biomechanics, yet footprint localities are rare. In June 2016 over 700 Mesolithic human and animal fossilised footprints were discovered along the Formby Point coastline. In December 2016 a further ~100 footprints were discovered 800m north of the first bed. These footprints are in addition to the thousands of fossilised footprints discovered along this coastline since the 1970s. All fossilised beds were rapidly destroyed by coastal erosion, necessitating the need for digital preservation.
The study aimed to interpret social behaviour from two fossilised sediment beds. A total of five human trackways are the focus of this study, including numerous animal footprints, such as auroch, roe and red deer, wolf and crane bird. Photogrammetry was applied to each footprint to create three-dimensional models for the digital preservation of these fragile fossils. Three-dimensional Geometric Morphometric methods were subsequently applied to each model as the shape and size of a footprint can inform upon biological profile an individual. However, morphology can be warped by substrate typology. As such, measurements of each footprint belonging to a single track were averaged to reduce error. Each trackway produced significantly different foot lengths, widths, index and stature, indicating that a minimum of five individuals (males and females), including one child, were present in this small section of the coastline. Variation in footprint depth and morphology per trackway indicate that a small group of individuals were repeatedly visiting the site where animals were congregating. Animal and human tracks were moving swiftly in common directions, inferring hunting activity in the prehistoric marshy hinterland. Small groups of individuals congregating at this site may suggest family groups travelling together. The interaction of human and animal footprints can provide a unique glimpse into social behaviour in Mesolithic north-western England.