University of Oulu

Huumonen, S., Särkioja, T., Salo, S., et al. (2017). Twelve unidentified skeletons as remains of an epidemic or famine in Northern Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Forensic Science, 22(2), pp. 33-40. Retrieved 29 Jun. 2017, from doi:10.1515/sjfs-2016-0006

Twelve unidentified skeletons as remains of an epidemic or famine in Northern Finland

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Author: Huumonen, Sisko1; Särkioja, Terttu2; Salo, Sinikka3;
Organizations: 1Institute of Dentistry, University of Turku, 20520 Turku, Finland; Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Turku University Hospital, 20520 Turku, Finland
2Departments of Forensic Medicine, University of Oulu, BOX 8000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
3Department of Dentistry, University of Oulu, BOX 8000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
4Department of Archeology, University of Oulu, BOX 8000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi-fe201706297596
Language: English
Published: De Gruyter Open, 2016
Publish Date: 2017-06-29
Description:

Abstract

Skeletal remains of 12 individuals were found in a grave in a tar-burning pit. There were no coffins or other belongings to help with identification or reveal the cause of death.

Methods: Forensic osteological and odontological methods were used to establish sex, age and height. Histological and chemical tests, including the determination of C-14 content, were applied to dating the skeletal remains.

Results: Out of 12 skeletons, 8 were adults; 5 females, 2 males and 1 probable female. Four skeletons belonged to children (ages 1–12 years). The bones had been in the grave for more than 100 years as concluded from the deterioration of the distal parts, embrittling of the surface to 1 mm depth. C-14 results gave the radiocarbon years 95 +/- 65 Bp (before present, i.e., 1950). The calibrated years correspond to two time periods, 1670–1780 AD and 1798–1944 AD, as a possible period of death.

Conclusions: Starvation and illnesses are the most plausible explanations for the deaths. Historical studies show that during the 17th and 19th centuries, there were famines in Finland accompanied by severe infections (severe famines in the years 1866–1868 and 1696–1697), forcing a lot of people to leave their homes.

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Series: Scandinavian journal of forensic science
ISSN: 2353-0707
ISSN-E: 2353-0707
ISSN-L: 2353-0707
Volume: 22
Issue: 2
Pages: 33 - 40
DOI: 10.1515/sjfs-2016-0006
OADOI: https://oadoi.org/10.1515/sjfs-2016-0006
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 319 Forensic science and other medical sciences
615 History and archaeology
Subjects:
Copyright information: © 2016 Author(s). This is an open access article licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/)”
  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/