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Childhood Cranial Trauma from a late Roman and Merovingian context from Michelet, Lisieux, France

The Michelet necropolis in Lisieux, France, dating to the late Roman and Merovingian period, comprises of a large number of well-preserved subadult remains offering a unique opportunity to better understand childhood trauma in the past. The focus of this study was to determine the amount, type, and mechanisms of trauma evidenced in subadults from the 4th–8th century AD, and explore potential circumstances surrounding the trauma. The remains of 109 subadults from the Michelet necropolis were examined for the presence of cranial and post-cranial trauma. Three individuals exhibited perimortem trauma, one individual had an antemortem cranial injury, and no cases of post-cranial trauma were identified. Cranial trauma affected 4.1% of children with observable cranial remains (N = 4/97). The children affected were young (2-7 years old), making it unlikely that they would have participated in militaristic activities. Based on the location, morphology and mechanism of injury identified, it is likely that the perimortem injuries sustained by three children were not accidental. The presence of a number of cranial injuries from this site may be related to increased stress in the community related to the decline of the Roman Empire in Gaul, possible raiding barbarian groups during the 4th–5th centuries, or stresses related to the Gallic aristocracy solidifying political powers in northern Gaul during the 5th–7th centuries AD. The consideration and inclusion of childhood trauma in bioarchaeological analyses allows for a more detailed and in-depth understanding of violence and childhood in the past.



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