Daniel Vanek, Hana Brzobohata, Marcela Silerova, Zdenek Horak, Miriam Nyvltova Fisakova, Michaela Vasinova Galiova, Pavla Zednikova Mala, Vladislava Urbanova, Miluse Dobisikova, Michal Beran and Petr Brestovansky
Aim: The present study was designed to analyze the 700-year-old human remains from an unusual grave using a combined approach that consisted of anthropological, archaeogenetic, genealogical, mass spectrometry, 3-dimensional (3D) modeling and facial reconstruction methods to confirm or reject several hypotheses about the skeletal remains.
Methods: DNA was extracted from the skeleton and amplified using autosomal and Y-chromosome human identification short tandem repeat (STR) kits that were designed for forensic use, and sequence data were obtained from hyper variable region I (HVRI) mtDNA sequencing. Elemental mapping and quantification of investigated elements were performed using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). The Computed Tomography (CT) images of the skull were created in a transversal plane, and the scans were used to create 3D geometric models of the skull. A plastic physical model (a cast) of the skull was produced by rapid prototyping technology, and the model was used for sculptural facial approximation of the studied individual. Results: The Y-chromosome haplogroup of the sample was determined to be E1b1b, and the assigned mtDNA haplogroup was H. LA-ICP-MS and geochemical analysis revealed that the individual consumed plants and meats, except pork. Anthropological examination estimated the age of the individual to be between 45-55 years, and we did not find any traces of disablement or physical anomalies. Interestingly, we were able to produce a facial reconstruction according to the skull.
Conclusion: Applying a multidisciplinary approach to the examination of the 14th century material enabled us to retrieve new types of information that helped us to interpret the excavated skeletal remains.