Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery Of The Oldest Remains Of A Woman Who Died In Childbirth

Date:
October 7, 2004
Source:
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona
Summary:
In ancient times, female death rates were particularly high and generally related to problems in maternity, such as complications during pregnancy, childbirth or the period of breast-feeding. Joint research between the UAB and the Universidad de Murcia has found a clear example of an ancient burial of a pregnant woman whose death can be linked to difficult birth (dystocia). The burial dates from the Argaric period, between 1,500 and 1,000 years BC, in the Bronze Age.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

In ancient times, female death rates were particularly high and generally related to problems in maternity, such as complications during pregnancy, childbirth or the period of breast-feeding. However, in most cases this link has only been established from indirect data, such paleodemographic data and ethnographic references, or based on the poor health conditions normally attributed to ancient human groups.

Related Articles


There also exists direct archaeological evidence of the high rate of female mortality in the child-rearing period. However, it has not always been possible to establish the cause of death in females and whether or not there was any relation to obstetric complications. Despite this, a number of cases of female skeletons with the foetus in the uterus have been described, as well as some cases where signs of obstetric complications have been diagnosed. These archaeological cases are extremely rare, are not well documented in the specialist literature and are not well known among the scientific community.

Joint research between the UAB and the Universidad de Murcia has found a clear example of an ancient burial of a pregnant woman whose death can be linked to difficult birth (dystocia). The archaeological team from the Universidad de Murcia, headed by Maria Manuela Ayala, found the remains in 1996 at the "El cerro de las Viñas" site in Murcia (Spain). Now, the UAB anthropologists, headed by Assumpció Malgosa, have established that it is the oldest case so far described in the paleopathological literature.

The burial dates from the Argaric period, between 1,500 and 1,000 years BC, in the Bronze Age. Argaric culture funeral rituals were characterised by individual inhumations, most of them within the dwelling or its perimeter. This burial is within one of these dwellings. It is that of a young woman, about 25-26 years of age, with a foetus in the 37th to 39th week of gestation in the uterine cavity, in a crosswise position and with part of the right arm outside the uterus.

In line with modern obstetric practices, the study of the two individuals and differential diagnosis has enabled the probable cause of death of the mother, and therefore the foetus, to be established as dystocia due to position of the foetus. Without a caesarean section, the mother probably died of sepsis, haemorrhage and exhaustion during the birth, and the foetus of heart failure.

The research was carried out by Assumpció Malgosa, Alícia Alesan and Santiago Safont, from the Unitat d'Antropologia del Departament de Biologia Animal, de Bilogia Vegetal i d'Ecologia, together with Madrona Ballbé (gynaecology) and Maria Manuela Ayala, from the Departamento de Prehistoria, Historia Antigua e Historia Medieval of the Universidad de Murcia, and was recently published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. "Discovery Of The Oldest Remains Of A Woman Who Died In Childbirth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041007084440.htm>.
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. (2004, October 7). Discovery Of The Oldest Remains Of A Woman Who Died In Childbirth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041007084440.htm
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. "Discovery Of The Oldest Remains Of A Woman Who Died In Childbirth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041007084440.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — Scientists discover a new species of giant amphibian that was one of the largest predators on earth about 220 million year ago. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) — Fragments of pottery used by Egyptians to make beer and dating back 5,000 years have been discovered on a building site in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said on Sunday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Party Like It's 3000 BC: Egyptian Beer Vessels Unearthed in Tel Aviv

Party Like It's 3000 BC: Egyptian Beer Vessels Unearthed in Tel Aviv

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — Israeli archaeologists unearth ancient Egyptian beer vessels in downtown Tel Aviv. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) — A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins