The Lombard necropolis of Dueville (Northeast Italy, 7th-9th c. AD): burial rituals, paleodemography, anthropometry and paleopathology

The necropolis of Dueville (Northeast Italy, 7th-9th c. AD) is one of the biggest Lombard necropolis in Italy: at present, more than 500 burials have been excavated. This report regards the anthropological analysis of 217 individuals, 74 sub-adult and 143 adults, excavated from 2000 to 2009. Sex was estimated for 134 individuals and sex ratio was 146 men to 100 women. The pits are west-east oriented, with skulls at west. Skeletons are all supine, with upper limbs lying along the sides or on the chest or on the pelvis; lower limbs are usually outstretched. Most of the people were buried directly in the ground, but for the 19.8% of skeletons there was the evidence of the use of shrouds and for the 7.8% the evidence of the use of wooden coffins. All paleodemographic parameters accord with the ones related to pre-industrialized societies: infant death-rate (qx) in children under 5 years of age was high (28.2%) and life expectancy at birth (e0) was of 24 years. The Lombard population of Dueville was tall (170.9 cm for males and 156.9 cm for females), generally robust and physically homogeneous. The physical type is referable to northern populations. Osteoarthritis was the most common observed pathology for both sexes. Cases of osteomyelitis and osteoperiostitis were observed exclusively in males and they may be associated to infected warfare injuries. Traumas can be observed in 7.8 % of Dueville population and in four cases they can be consider the cause of death.