The Burial

The skeleton in situ

The only burial so far to have been found at Iklaina is an intramural pit grave. It contained the remains of an adolescent female, approximately 12-15 years of age. The body had been placed in a partially extended position with the legs extended toward the north, the arms fully flexed, and the head at the south. The left hand lay on the sternum, and the right hand was on the right shoulder. The pelvis and lower back were at the lowest point of the pit and the lower legs and neck were both approximately 10-12 centimeters higher at each end of the pit. The head was sharply flexed forward, with the chin resting on the right and left hands, and the crown of the head facing upward. The preservation of the skeletal elements varies with the depth of burial. Almost no bone from the top of the skull or the feet was recovered. The lower legs, neck and shoulders are quite fragmentary, but the rest of the skeleton is increasingly well preserved and intact, as the depth of the overlying soil increases. The pelvis and lower spine are particularly well preserved, as they lay in the lowest portion of the pit.

The skeleton did not preserve clear indications of significant trauma, disease or other conditions that might have caused or contributed to the death of this individual.  There are, however, indicators of stress during the person’s life. A number of teeth exhibit linear enamel hypoplasias (LEH), indicators of a disruption in the developmental process during the formation of the teeth. These disruptions are probably associated with disease or nutritional stress, but cannot be associated with any specific etiology.  Another indicator of generally poor health is found on the upper edge of the one preserved eye orbit, on the left side of the skull. There is an area of porosity, termed Cribra Orbitalia. This condition commonly is associated with anemias, but the specific cause of the condition cannot be determined. Dietary deficiency of iron, genetic disease and internal parasite load can all result in anemic conditions. Similarly located lesions have been shown also to be associated with scurvy, but this skeleton lacks the more typical cranial lesions caused by vitamin C deficiency. The presence of both indications of anemia and recurring growth arrest suggest a stressful life, with repeated instances of disease and/or malnutrition. However the condition of the bones is not unusual for prehistoric skeletons in Greece, and the lesions are not severe.