AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 72:373-379 (1987) Bone Breakage in the Krapina Hominid Collection MARY D. RUSSELL Department of Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio 44106 KEY WORDS Krapina, Neandertals, Cannibalism, Taphonomy ABSTRACT The fragmentary condition of the Krapina Neandertal remains has been offered as one line of evidence for the hypothesis that these hominids were the victims of cannibals seeking marrow and brains. Two other hypotheses regarding the causes of the framentation have been raised: 1) a substantial portion of the breakage in the Krapina collection is attributable to excavation damage; and 2) the rest of the breakage is attributable to sedimentary pressure and to natural rock falls that occurred during the site’s prehistory. The purpose of this paper is report on tests of these three hypotheses concerning the cause of breakage in the Krapina material. Microscopic inspection of all Krapina hominid specimens showed that 23% of the material was inadvertantly broken during excavation or during quarrying that took place a t the end of the last century. The morphology of the prehistoric breakage is inconsistent with the cannibalism hypothesis and supports the hypothesis that prehistoric breakage was caused by sedimentary pressure andor roof falls. The Husfijakovo rock shelter, near the Croatian town of Krapina, was excavated between 1899 and 1905 by D. GorjanoviC-Kramberger (GorjanoviC-Kramberger, 1899, 1906). Forty-three hominid adults and adolescents as well a s several juveniles (Trinkaus, 1985) are represented at Krapina by over 650 hominid bone specimens. Nearly twice as many individuals are represented by 282 teeth, either isolated or preserved in jaws (Wolpoff, 1979). Current estimates date the bulk of the hominid sample to the last interglacial and the early last glacial, although some specimens may be later (Malez, 1970a,b). Middle Paleolithic tools were associated with the hominid remains GorjanoviC-Kramberger, 1913; Malez, 1970~).The Krapina hominids are commonly considered a sample of a n archaic European population of Homo sapiens informally known as Neandertals (Campbell, 1964; Brace, 1962, 1964; Smith, 1976; Day, 1977; Wolpoff, 1979, 1980; Trinkaus, 1975, 1983, 1985). The external surfaces of Pleistocene bone from Krapina are often well preserved and intact, but most specimens are very fragmentary. The relatively complete hominid vaults (crania A, B, C, and E) are reconstructed from scores of small pieces. All the crania :.i 1987 ALAN R. LISS, INC. lack bases, and all but C lack faces. Of the hundreds of hominid bone specimens from Krapina, only the smaller bones such as vertebrae, metacarpals, and phalanges are unbroken. Most limb bone shafts are broken cross-sectionally, and the larger limb bone diaphyses are split longitudinally as well. Traditionally, the fragmentary condition of the Krapina bones has been explained as deliberate damage caused by cannibals seeking brains and marrow (GorjanoviC-Kramberger, 1906, 1909a,b; Klaatsch, 1923; Keith, 1928; HrdliEka, 1930; Skerlj, 1939; Courville, 1958; OiegoviC, 1958; Vallois, 1961; Howell, 1965; Roper, 1969; TomiC-KaroviC, 1970; Smith, 1976; Ullrich, 1978; Burian and Wolf, 1978; Campbell, 1982; Wymer, 1982). Longitudinally split diaphyses with spiral or oblique fracture lines like those observed among the Krapina femora and tibiae have often been considered evidence of hominid marrow extraction techniques (GorjanoviCKramberger, 1906,1909b;Breuil, 1938,1939; Weidenreich, 1941; Dart, 1960; Howell, 1965; Bonnichsen, 1973, 1979). Further, the fact that Krapina diaphyses with relatively small Received April 4, 1986; revision accepted September 10, 1986. 374 M.D. RUSSELL diameters (fibulae, ulnae, radii,etc.) are not longitudinally split has been used to argue that the cannibals chose to exploit only the bones that would yield the largest amount of marrow (Leroi-Gourhan, 1976). The hypothesis that cannibals were responsible for the fragmentation of the Krapina hominid remains has been questioned but not systematically tested. For example, it has been speculated that a substantial portion of the damage to the Krapina material may be attributable to the use of dynamite during excavation (Brace, 1957; Coon, 1963; Trinkaus, 1985) and to the use of large tools for clearing overburden (Trinkaus, 19851, although the specimens considered most likely to have sustained modern damage were not identified. Genuine prehistoric breakage has been attributed to sedimentary pressure and/or to natural rockfalls that occurred several times during the cave’s prehistory (Trinkaus, 1985). Trinkaus (1985) noted that the pattern of fractures seen in the Krapina collection resembles that seen in Neandertal burials that were crushed in situ by sediment weight (e.g., Shanidar 1, 4,5, and 6 (Trinkaus, 1983) and Tabun C1 (McCown and Keith, 1939). That is, femora and tibiae are fragmented, while arm bones and fibulae are generally well preserved. Trinkaus reasoned that femora and tibiae have large diameters and are therefore more likely to collapse under transverse sedimentary pressure, whereas ulnae, radii, and fibulae have small diameters and relatively thick cortical bone, which makes them more resistant to crushing. Furthermore, it been repeatedly demonstrated that oblique fractures and diaphyseal splitting are not diagnostic of human marrow extraction techniques and are in fact commonly produced by many nonhuman taphonomic agents (De Mortillet, 1900; Martin, 1907-1910; Pei, 1938; Zapfe, 1939; Feustel, 1969, 1970; Hill, 1976, 1980; Shipman and Phillips-Conroy, 1977; Binford, 1978, 1981). Spiral or oblique fracturing will occur whenever a relatively green bone breaks (Bonnichsen, 1973, 1979; Binford 1978); diaphyses subjected to transverse pressure of any kind tend to rupture longitudinally, as the fracture follows the orientation of haversian systems and collagen fiber bundles (Trinkaus, 1985). In contrast, marrow extraction by hominids is most convincingly demonstrated by evidence of hammer blows: that is, by radial or conchoidal fractures of long bone shafts (GorjanoviC-Kramberger, 1909b; Martin, 1909; Sadek-Kooros, 1972,1975; NoeNygaard, 1977; LeMort, 1981; Binford, 1981; Bunn, 1981). The purpose of this paper is to report on a test of the hypothesis that the fragmentation of the Krapina hominid material was caused by hominid cannibals, presumably during the extraction of marrow and other soft tissues. The rival hypotheses were also tested. These hypotheses were 1)the breakage a t Krapina was inadvertantly caused by the actions of modern workers and 2) genuine prehistoric breakage was caused by nonhuman taphonomic agents, specifically rock falls and sedimentary pressure. A brief review of the modern history of the Krapina hominid collection will be provided, followed by a report on the results of a microscopic examination of all hominid cranial and postcranial specimens for evidence of modern damage and of prehistoric breakage attributable to hominid marrow extraction. MODERN HISTORY OF THE SITE The Husnjakovo site served the town of Krapina as a sand quarry for many years before its importance as a hominid fossil site was suspected (BariC, 1978) [RadovEid, pers. comm.]. Photographs dating to the late 19th century show the hillside denuded of trees, with the cave mouth widened by quarrying and tailings from that activity spilling down the hill face (Archives of the Geolosko-Paleontologki Musej, Zagreb; BariC, 1978). Dragutin GorjanoviC-Kramberger, at the GoeloSko-Paleontoloski Muzej of Zagreb, was first made aware of the paleontological site in 1895 when a local school teacher sent him a package of “unusual bones” from the sand quarry. GorjanoviC-Kramberger identified the bones as fossil mammals and wrote in his 1895 field notebook’ that “Diluvial” fauna2 had been located near the town of Krapina. GorjanoviC-Kramberger was at that time en- ’Gorjanovit-Kramherger’s field notebooks are available for inspection a t the GeoloSko-PaleontoloSki Muzej, Demetrova Ulica 1,41000 Zagreb, Yugoslavia. ‘It should he noted that in 1895, the term “Pleistocene” had not yet been coined. It is clear from Gorjanovic-Kramberger’s many publications that the term “Diluvial” was used in the broad sense of “ancient.” Gorjanovit-Kramherger was an e x p e ~ rienced and competent geologist, trained by Karl Zittle a t the University of Munich. The Pleistocene maps Gorjanovit-Kramberger prepared a t the turn of the century are accurate and are still in use today. From this, it is obvious that he understood geology within a thoroughly modern paradigm, despite his use of now outmoded stratigraphic terms. 375 BONE BREAKAGE IN KRAPINA HOMINIDS gaged in writing up a variety of papers on fossil fish and mammals, as well as on the geology of the region near Zagreb. Thus, 4 years passed before he actually visited the Krapina site, during which time quarrying continued (Baric, 1978). GorjanoviC-Kramberger first visited the Krapina site on August 23, 1899. Quarrying had laid open the stratigraphy of the rock shelter, and GorjanoviC-Kramberger found a large human molar almost a t once. That afternoon, he identified nine stratigraphic levels, including three that contained stone tools as well as abundant hominid and faunal remains. GorjanoviC-Kramberger went to the mayor of Krapina that same day to request that all further use of the quarry be stopped. This was done. Excavation of the site began on September 2, 1899 (GorjanoviC-Kramberger, 1906). One of the first tasks to be carried out before excavation could be undertaken was the removal of a dangerously unstable rock outcropping partially roofing over the site (Gorjanovic-Kramberger, 1906; Malez, 1970a). For his crew’s safety, GorjanovicKramberger had the outcropping dynamited. Photographs of the site taken afterward show local laborers using picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows to clear overburden (Archives of the GeoloSko-PaleontoloSkiMuzej, Zagreb). Overlying the Homo Zonus (level 4) from which most of the hominid material was recovered, there was a meter-thick sterile layer of large sandstone blocks and debris (GorjanoviC-Kramberger, 1906).This rock fall dates to the beginning of the last glacial era (Malez, 1970a, 1978).Similar layers of large boulders can be seen today a t other nearby cave sites, such as Velika Peirina and Vindija. During the excavation at Krapina, dynamite was used to break up some of the sandstone and conglomerate blocks from these earlier, natural roof falls (Gorjanovit-Kramberger, 1906). This debris was also cleared from the site by laborers using large tools and wheelbarrows. (geological)processes according to criteria described below. To separate evidence of ancient hominid activities that led to fragmentation from breakage caused by nonhuman taphonomic agents, all Krapina hominid material was inspected under a light microscope for evidence of the kind of hammer blows considered diagnostic of human marrow extraction techniques (GorjanoviC-Kramberger, 1909b; Martin, 1909; Sadek-Kooros, 1972,1975; NoeNygaard, 1977; LeMort, 1981; Binford, 1981; Bunn, 1981) and of blows to the skull for brain extraction (Clark, n.d.). Such blows produce broad thin spalls with platforms bounded by arcuate fissure lines behind the point of impact. A specimen was considered to have been broken by modern humans during quarrying or excavation if its broken edges appeared under magnification to be clean, sharp, unweathered and free of matrix. Often new breaks are lighter in color than old ones, and this was also considered. Specimens meeting the criteria for recent damage were listed by number and tallied. This tally may be considered conservative. It does not include any specimen having apparently recent and clean but glued breaks, since those surfaces could not be examined microscopically. If there was any doubt about the recency of a break, the specimen was not included in the tally. Breakage showing neither clean, sharp matrix-free features nor evidence of hammer blows was attributed to geologic and other nonhominid agents. Reliability of observations was checked by repeating the microscopic inspection of the collection after a 1month interval. One specimen was removed from the list of specimens with modern breakage, and five were added. No changes were made in the observation of hammer blows for marrow extraction. Thus, observations were consistent for 99.1% of the collection. MATERIALS AND METHODS Table 1 lists the specimens identified as having sustained modern damage using the criteria described above. Of the 669 individual fragments and reconstructed hominid specimens, 151 or 23% of the Krapina hominid collection show visible evidence of recent breakage. Of 239 cranial vault fragments, 20% had fresh breaks. Eighteen percent of the 28 mandibular pieces sustained modern damage. Twenty-four percent of the 397 post- All broken edges of all hominid cranial and postcranial specimens in the Krapina collection were examined under a light microscope a t x 10 to x 40 magnification. For this analysis, a glued specimen was counted as a single specimen even if it was constructed of two or more separately numbered specimens. Observed damage was attributed to ancient hominids, modern humans, or nonhominid RESULTS 376 M.D. RUSSELL TABLE 1. Hominid specimens with visible edges broken during quarrying or excavation at Kraoina. Manv o f these swecimens also disolav orehistoric breaks Bone category Crania Parietal fragments Temporal fragments Occipital fragments Misc. Cranial fragments Mandibular fragments Vertebrae Ribs Claviculae Scapulae Humeri Ulnae Radii Carpals Metacarpals Hand phalanges Innominates Patellae Femora Tibiae Large shaft fragments (tibia1 or femoral) Fibulae Tali Calcanei Anterior tarsals Metatarsals Pedal uhalanees Specimens with fresh breakage Cranium A: parietal fragments 1, 34.9 Cranium C: occipital fragments 13, 18 7, 18.1,18.4, 18.9, 18.14, 18.18, 33.1, 33.4, 34.5, 34.6, 34.11, and 5 unnumbered fragments 38.14, 38.17, 39.40, and 2 unnumbered fragments 6 unnumbered fragments 21 unnumbered fragments 65,69,72,73, and 1 unnumbered fragment 105, 111.2, 114.6, 116.5, 1 1 6 . 2 ~ ~ (spec. number obscured) 117.2. 188.8.131.52. 118.3. 118.4. 119. 120.4. 120.9. 120.10. 120.13. 120.14. 120.23, 120.24, 120.26, 120.30, 120.31, 120.32, 120.34, 120.35, 120.36, 120.38, 120.41, 120.42 plus 4 unnumbered fragments 145, 156, 157 121, 122, 123, 126, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135, 136,137, 138, 139,140 161, 162, 166, 167, 169, 171, 257.25 185, 186,188 190, 191,192, 194,195, 196,198, 199 None 247.3 204.3. 205.26 255.1; 255.5, 255.6 216.2 214, 257.23, 257.24 257.16, 257.19, 257.22, 257.27, 257.28 257.5, 257.7, 257.8, 257.11, 257.12, 257.14, 257.29130 222,223,224,226,228,233,234 None None None 247.3 None cranial specimens shows evidence of recent scalloped edges, conical pitting, and short breakage. transverse gashes characteristically proTable 2 summarizes the percentages of each duced by carnivores gnawing on long bone bone class broken during quarrying or exca- shafts (Hill, 1976, 1980; Binford, 1978, 1981). vation. It can be seen from this table that the In addition, i t should be noted that one specbones most vulnerable to dry-bone breakage imen, distal humerus 178, was sawn into anwere scapulae (74%), radii (66%), large shaft terior and posterior halves by Gorjanovicfragments (57%),ribs and fibulae (both 50%). Kramberger for analysis of the bone’s inteSmall bones such as phalanges, tarsals, pa- rior [J.RadoviEiC, pers. comm.]. Microscopic inspection of longitudinally tellae, and vertebrae were least likely to have been broken by quarriers or excavators a t split and spirally fractured hominid femora and tibiae in the Krapina collection failed to this site. Two specimens deserve special attention. reveal any evidence of the kind of impact Radius 189 and tibia 217 have both been fractures characteristic of human marrow described a s bearing extensive evidence of extraction activities. This tends to disprove cannibalistic butchery and marrow extrac- the hypothesis that hominids were responsition activities (Ullrich, 1978).These two spec- ble for the fragmentation of the Krapina imens are diaphyseal splinters having the hominid specimens. Prehistoric breakage in BONE BREAKAGE IN KRAPINA HOMINIDS 377 the Krapina hominid collection is consistent human activities or to nonhuman prehistoric with fragmentation by nonhuman, primarily taphonomic agents, were upheld by microscopic examination of the bones. The very geological taphonomic agents. fragmentary condition of the Krapina homiCONCLUSIONS nid material is not surprising in view of three The results of the thorough microscopic ex- facts. First, the bulk of the hominid material amination of all the Krapina hominid speci- was subjected to 50,000 to 100,000 years of mens confirm conclusions reached by other sedimentary pressure before excavation. Secworkers based on gross examinations of dia- ond, the Homo Zonus was pounded repeatphyseal fragments (Gorjanovid-Kramberger, edly by natural rock falls a t the beginning of 1909b; Trinkaus, 1985): no evidence of ham- the last glacial era. Third, nearly one-fourth mer blows associated with marrow extrac- of the Krapina hominid specimens were brotion has ever been found on any Krapina ken during quarrying or excavation. hominid specimen. The hypothesis that bone ACKNOWLEDGMENTS breakage at Krapina is attributable to cannibals extracting brains or marrow is unsupThis research was supported by a grant ported. Breakage patterns are, of course, only from the International Research and Exone of several types of archeological and/or changes Board, New York, and by the Savtaphonomic evidence that could support can- ezni Zavod za Medjunarodnu NauEnu, nibalism hypotheses (Russell et al., 1985; Prosvetno-Kulturnu i TekniEku Saradju Villa et al., 1986). Other tests of the Krapina (Federal Administration for International cannibalism hypothesis, including a detailed Scientific, Educational, Cultural and Techstudy of the possible cutmarks on the Kra- nical Cooperation), Beograd. My thanks go pina material, have been conducted and will the staff of the Geolosko-Paleontoloski Mwej be reported separately (Russell, this volume). of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, for their friendship, The rival hypotheses, that bone breakage cooperation, and assistance. In particular, I a t Krapina is attributable either to modern thank J. RadovEid, curator of the Krapina TABLE 2. Percentage of hominid specimens in each bone category having visible edges broken during auarrvine or excavation at Kraaina' Bone category Crania Vault fragments Mandibular fragments Vertebrae Ribs Claviculae Scapulae Humeri Ulnae Radii Carpals Metacarpals Hand Phalanges Innominates Patellae Femora Tibiae Large shaft fragments (femitib) Fibulae Tali Anterior Tarsals Metatarsals Pedal Phalanges Total No. of specimens No. of specimens with fresh breakage 5 239 28 64 56 17 19 22 10 12 1 48 5 5 28 3 14 6 3 8 0 ~~ n L 7 52 13 15 9 12 14 14 12 4 12 32 669 8 7 0 0 1 0 151 Percent with fresh breaks 40 20 18 8 50 18 74 27 33 66 0 14 4 23 7 33 42 57 50 0 0 8 0 23 'The number of specimens used as a basis for each percentage figure may differ slightly from previously published counts. For this analysis, glued specimens were counted as one specimen even if they were constructed of two or more separately numbered specimens. 378 M.D. R1LJSSELL collection and GorjanoviC-Kramberger scholar. 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