AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 69:317-323 (1986) Cutmarks on the Engis 2 Calvaria? MARY D. RUSSELL AND FRANCOISE LEMORT Department of Oral Biology, School of Dentistry, Case Western Reserve Uniuersity, Cleveland OH44121 USA (M.D.R.) and Laboratory of Anthropology, University of Bordeaux I, Avenue des Facultks, 33405 Talence, France (F. L.) KEY WORDS Cutmarks, Neandertal, Taphonomy, Scalping ABSTRACT An examination of the surface morphology of the juvenile Neandertal calvaria, Engis 2, has resulted in the discovery of several series of incised striations. The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss these striations. A preliminary interpretation of at least some of the striations as cutmarks, made at or near the time of the child's death, is offered. Engis 2, a juvenile hominid associated with Mousterian tools, was discovered by P-C. Schmerling in 1829 near Liege, Belgium, in the Engis caverns. The specimen consists of a nearly complete skullcap, a portion of the maxilla containing deciduous incisors and canines and several isolated deciduous and permanent molars. Although the child was less than 6 years old at death, its skull shape is similar to that of adult Neandertals. It is long and low, with a protuberant occipital bun. The maxilla lacks a canine fossa. Seen from above, the vault is tear-drop shaped. Seen from behind, it is circular. The child has a delicate but definite supraorbital torus, separated from the frontal squama by a slight ophrionic groove. In addition to Engis 2, Schmerling catalogued more than 60 species of extinct animals in the Engis caverns, including the remains of two other hominids (Schmerling, 1833). Those individuals were later recognized as Aurignacian burials intruding into the Mousterian level (Fraipont, 1936a,b). Schmerling carefully documented the coexistence of the human fossils with the remains of extinct quaternary animals, arguing against the likelihood that the human remains were recent burials by showing that the human and faunal remains were in an identical state of preservation. In addition, he correctly identified many stone objects found with the human remains as tools. He concluded that the human remains were deposited in the Engis caverns at the same time and by the same means as were the animal remains and corrrectly identified these individuals as fossil humans in 1833. 0 1986 ALAN R. LISS, INC Schmerling was, therefore, the first on record to discover and recognize fossil forms of humankind. His conclusions, however, were largely ignored (Brace and Montagu, 1965).Even after general recognition of the Neandertals as genuine representatives of an earlier human population, Engis 2 provoked little interest. The specimen was studied and described as a juvenile Neandertal by Fraipont in 1936. However, it appears that no reference has ever been made to the enigmatic striations on the skull's surface. DESCRIPTION OF THE INCISED STRIATION ON ENGIS 2 A recent examination of the surface of the Engis 2 skullcap revealed that the child's cranium has a number of circumscribed areas of incised striations. The frontal bone has several groups of multiple incisions (Fig. 1; Plates 1-3). In the midline of the frontal bone, there appear to be three groups of subparallel lines 1-2 cm long and running less than a millimeter apart (Fig. 1A). It seems likely that the lines were originally continuous 36-cm long striations. The three groups of lines appear to be separate because two intervening regions of bone table are eroded (Plate 1). The striations begin at the glabellar region and fan out slightly, moving posteriorly toward the coronal suture, but do not continue onto the parietal bones. Over the left orbit, there are a number of oblique subparallel lines about 1-cm long, Received December 4, 1984; revised August 21, 1985; revision accepted August 27,1985. 318 M.D. RUSSELL AND F. LEMORT Fig. 1. Engis 2 calvaria, norma frontalis. running parallel to the supero-medial margin of the orbit (Fig. 1B; Plate l).Cutting across this patch of lines is a long, nearly horizontal striation running from the left midorbit across glabella to the superomedial margin of the right orbit. Also on the frontal bone, on the right zygomatic process, there is a region of incised cross-hatching (Fig. 1C; Plate 2). This consists of two groups of centimeter long striations, with over 30 striations in a group, incised a t right angles to each other. In addition, there may be a small incised polygon, with a short line intersecting it, near midpoint of the coronal suture on the right side of the frontal bone (Fig. 1D; Plate 3). It is not clear whether this is a humanly applied leaf-shaped design or a naturally occurring surface phenomenon. On the right side of the occipital bone, near the lambdoidal suture, there are two groups of 15 to 20 striations each (Fig. 2; Plate 4). In the more anterior group, the striations radiate outward from a central region in a fanlike configuration. The lines are 2-4 cm long, although many of them run off the broken edges of the occipital fragments. The corresponding region of the left side of the skull is preserved, but there are no striations on the side. In fact, there is no indication of bilateral symmetry in any of the incised regions of the calvaria, although in most cases the contralateral bone region is preserved. INTERPRETATION OF THE STRIATIONS The European fossil hominid record includes many specimens marked with incised striations similar in number, depth and CUTMARKS ON ENGIS 2 319 Plate 1.Top left. Plate 2. Bottom left. Plate 3. Right. length, if not in placement, to those on Engis 2 (Table 1; see also LeMort, 1981, for detailed descriptions). Many of the Neandertal remains from the Krapina site in Croatia bear incised striations which have been described as cutmarks (GorjanoviC-Kramberger 1906, 1909; TomiC-KaroviC, 1970; Smith, 1976; U11rich 1978; LeMort, 1981). Krapina A, for example, is another juvenile Neandertal calvaria (Smith, 1976) which bears a large number of long, finely incised striations, in that case running roughly parallel to the coronal suture, passing from one squamosal suture to the other. The hazards of interpreting incised striations on hominid bones in the absence of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis have been pointed out by taphonomists and others (Shipman, 1981a,b; Shipman and Rose, 1983; Binford, 1981; Bunn, 1981; Potts, 1982; Potts and Shipman, 1981; Oliver, 1984). SEM inspection, however, requires a scrupulously clean bone surface (Rose, 1983). Typically, fossil specimens recovered in the 19th and most of the 20th century have been preserved with shellack. It is difficult to remove shellack from subfossil bone safely, a fact which precludes the use of SEM inspection of many hominid fossil surfaces. Therefore, some aspects of our interpretation of the Engis 2 striations must be considered preliminary until and unless i t is possible to clean the specimen sufficiently to confirm or disprove them with SEM inspection. Nevertheless, we believe there is good, grossly visible evidence in support of the hypothesis that at least some of the described striations on the Engis 2 calvaria are the 320 M.D. RUSSELL AND F. LEMORT Fig. 2. Engis 2, right occipital and temporal region. FM = foramen magnum. M process. = mastoid result of deliberate and repeated scoring with a stone tool a t or near the time of child's death'. The evidence for this interpretation follows. First, the striations do not appear to be recent; that is, they do not appear to be due to damage that occurred during or after excavation. The striations are the same color as the surrounding bone, rather than having the clean, white, unweathered appearance of fresh scratches cutting into a n old surface. The striations are continuous across weathering cracks (Plates 1 and 3) and across the glued edges of reconstructed fragments (Plate 4). Many of the striations on the occipital bone run off the broken and weathered edge Plate 4. 'It should be noted that there are some scattered scratches on the specimen, not described in this paper, which are likely to be random sedimentary damage. CUTMARKS ON ENGIS 2 321 Table 1. European fossil hominid crania reported to have incised striations (see LeMort, 1981 for detailed anatomical descriptions) Suecimen Fontechevade 4 (formerly 1) Krapina A Krapina B Krapina C Krapina D Krapina E Marillac La Placard B La Placard C La Placard D La Placard F La Placard G La Placard H La Placard I La Madelaine Saint-Marcel Location of striations Oblique-transverse striations above left supreciliary arch Numerous long striations on frontal and parietals, paralleling coronal suture Short oblique striations over right inferior nuchal line; oblique striations over right parietal boss Short transverse striations in ladder-like arrangement in midline of frontal squama Several striations on right inferior frontal squama Two striations in midsagittal plane of frontal squama just above glabellar region Large number of striations on right parietal and on occipital Large number of striations on frontal and on both parietals Large number of striations on frontal and on both parietals Several striations along the temporal line of left parietal Three parallel striations on left parietal and temporal, crossing perpendicularly over squamosal suture Large number of striations on both parietals Several oblique striations on right parietal; several striations on left parietal near and perpendicular to sagittal suture Large number of striations on frontal, both parietals and occipital Several striations on right parietal Several striations on right parietal of the bone fragments (Plate 4).There is apparently natural abrasion of the frontal bone’s outer table, disrupting the continuity of long striations down the center of the frontal squama (Plate 1). Thus, we believe that the striations were made when the bone was fresh, prior to weathering and breakage. If the specimen’s surface can be sufficiently cleaned, this interpretation is testable, using recently developed SEM criteria for distinguishing cuts made immediately on fresh bone from those made after weathering has taken place (Russell et al., 1985, and work in progress). Second, because the striations appear to the naked eye to be sharp and unremodeled, we believe the marks are either post-mortem or were made immediately prior to death, before any healing could take place. This conclusion can also be confirmed or denied by SEM inspection. Third, although cutmarks on bone can be mimicked by vertebrate gnawing, by sedimentary abrasion, and by trampling (Shipman and Rose, 1983; Oliver, 1984),we believe that the number, straightness, orderliness, and length of the marks over the left orbit and of those running down the center of the frontal squama make these striations unlikely to be attributable to any kind of animal damage or to accidental, random scoring by sharp-edged stones during rock slides or roof-falls in the Engis caverns. Deliberate hominid activity seems to us to be the most conservative explanation for these striations, but SEM confirmation would be desirable. Interpretation of the other incised marks is less straightforward and requires SEM inspection to rule out cutmark mimics. The leaf-shaped polygon on the frontal squama may be random root-etching although it does appear grossly to be cut into the surface. The numerous striations on the occipital bone and the scratches on the right zygomatic process of the frontal bone seem very unlikely to be sedimentary scratches or the result of trampling. Neither do these striations grossly resemble any of the marks made by animals scratching or gnawing on bone as described by Shipman and Rose (1983). Until SEM inspection becomes possible, we offer as a theoretically testable hypothesis the suggestion that these striations are cutmarks. Nevertheless, we find the apparently pointless rep- 322 M.D. RUSSELL AND F. LEMORT etition of the occipital striations and the cross-hatching on the zygomatic process of the frontal bone puzzling. DISCUSSION We can state with some confidence that the cranium was not defleshed. Although the face is incomplete and the vault fragmented, some important muscle attachment sites are preserved. There is no indication at these attachment sites that the child’s temporal muscles or facial soft tissues were removed, as might be expected if defleshing were the goal of the activity. The presumed cutmarks on the frontal bone are in regions not associated with major muscle attachments. They are in areas covered by the scalp and by the frontalis muscle or the galea aponeurotica. Unlike defleshing, scalping leaves cutmarks on areas of the skull devoid of muscle attachments. Scalping, however, is most commonly described as involving multiple encircling incisions, starting above one ear and running transversely across the forehead to the other ear, with the scalp subsequently slashed or pulled away from the occipital bone without leaving any striations on it (Herodotus, 450 BC; Friederici, 1906; Nadeau, 1941; Hamperl and Laughlin, 1959; Hamperl, 1967; Owsley and Berryman, 1975; Owsley et al., 1977; McGrath, 1983). The cutmarks on Engis 2 do not follow this pattern. Methods of removing the scalp which do not leave circular incisions have either been observed ethnographically (Nadeau, 1941; McGrath, 1983) or have been proposed as anatomically possible (Bass and Phenice, 1975). For example, the early German historian, Adam von Bremen (c. 900 AD) tells of the excision of a cross-shaped segment of scalp from the heads of non-Christian slaves (McGrath, 1983). A hypothetical style of scalping, in which the scalp is hemisected sagittally with a blade and then peeled down the sides, has been proposed as the explanation for cutmarks near and running parallel to the sagittal suture on prehistoric human parietal bones from South Dakota (Bass and Phenice, 1975). Sagittal skinning of the head would appear to spoil the scalp as a trophy, so it has been suggested that when such a method is used, the defleshed cranium itself may be the object of the activity (Villa et al., in press). For example, it has been reported that several crania from the Neolithic French site a t Fontbregoua bear cutmarks running in the sagittal plane (Villa et al., in press). Like Engis 2, the sagittal striations on the Neolithic French crania are found low on the frontal bone. The striations proceed posteriorly onto the parietal bones, as do the striations on the South Dakota specimen. The Fontbregoua marks differ from those on Engis 2 in that they are accompanied by extensive skinning marks on the maxillae and defleshing marks along the temporal lines. It must be noted that Engis 2 differs from both the Dakotan and French crania in that the striations on the Engis 2 frontal bone do not continue onto the parietal bones. Furthermore, the multiple striations on Engis 2’s frontal bone fan out somewhat, rather than running in a tight sagittal grouping as on the other crania. Nevertheless, we recognize that it is a t least anatomically possible that the long striations on the frontal bone, running subparallel to the sagittal plane, could represent cuts made to hemisect the anterior portion of the scalp. The striations above the right orbit might represent secondary cuts, made as the scalp was pulled down the sides of the skull. Once the scalp was loosened in that manner, it might have been peeled toward the back of the head, at which time the marks on the right occipital may have been made. Even if some form of skinning or scalping were tentatively accepted as a n explanation for some of the striations on Engis 2, the numerous densely cut cross-hatchings on the right zygomatic process of the frontal bone remain unaccounted for. They have no obvious functional or anatomical meaning. The cross-hatching cannot be reproduced experimentally on cadaver crania using either stone or steel blades unless the soft tissue overlying the bone is first removed by other means, suggesting that the cross-hatchings a t least may have been made after the soft tissues had either been removed or had rotted away naturally (Russell et al., 1983). In any case, it is probably unjustified to assume that a single taphonomic event was responsible for all the striations on the Engis 2 calvaria. In summary, it seems likely that the frontal squama of Engis 2 was repeatedly scored with a stone tool a t or near the time of the child’s death. Striations on other parts of the calvaria are more enigmatic but are not easily attributable to sedimentary scratching, although it is possible that they are animal CUTMARKS ON ENGIS 2 damage. With the exception of the possibility of the hypothetical scalping style raised above, the striations make little sense in any functional interpretation of the cutting. If molds of all the Engis 2 striations can be obtained for SEM analysis, we anticipate that its taphonomic history will prove to be very interesting. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We thank Prof. G. Ubaghs and the staff of the Laboratoire de Paleontologie Animale of the University of LiBge, Liege, Belgium for permission to study and photograph the Engis material. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (BNS8120078). LITERATURE CITED Bass, WM, and Phenice, TW (1975) Prehistoric Human Skeletal Material from Three Sites in North and South Dakota. In RW Neuman (ed): The Sonota Complex and Associated Sites on the Northern Great Plains. Appendix C. Lincoln, Nebraska: Nebraska State Hist. Soc. Binford, LR (1981) Bones: Ancient Men and Modern Myths. Academic Press, San Francisco. 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