Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 1-2 (November 2009)Quentin Bourgeois; Luc Amkreutz; Raphaël Panhuysen: The Niersen Beaker burial: A renewed study of a century-old excavation
3 Human remains

3.6 Disarticulated human remains

In the northern part of the burial the remains of a deposition of disarticulated bones were preserved. These bones will be henceforth referred to as ‘disarticulated deposition’. As far as can be seen in the present situation this deposition consists of a skull, a fragment of a pelvis, a mandible and – on top of this mandible – large diaphyseal sections of at least nine long bones. The mandible is lying with the superior surface facing downward.

Determination of the long bones was impeded by the fact that the bones were often lacking the proximal and distal ends and were partially still embedded in the soil. Some long bones seem to have extended outside the plaster encasing the burial. Some bones from the disarticulated deposition may have been lost during excavation and recovery of the burial. Among the nine long bones in the disarticulated deposition were two femora (right and left), probably three tibiae, two humeri and one fibula. One bone could not be identified due to the fact that it was fragmented. Most bones may well have been paired bones from one individual. The presence of what is assumed to be a third tibiae indicates that two (or more) individuals may be represented in the disarticulated deposition.

The long bones in the disarticulated deposition are roughly lying parallel to each other, the proximal and distal ends are not all on the same side, suggesting the bones were rather casually deposited together. The soil was also darkly coloured around the disarticulated deposition. In general these bones are much better preserved than those of the crouched inhumation. This may result from the fact that these bones were deposited in the grave without adhering soft tissue. The absence of soft tissue may have slowed down the decomposition of the bone (Mant 1987).

Sex determination for the main individual in the disarticulated deposition can only be based on a general impression of the robustness of the long bones and the mandible, which indicates this was possibly a male individual. Stature can be estimated based on the length of the left femur (49.3 cm). When calculated according to the regression tables for European males by Breitinger (1937), the stature of the individual would be around 175.4 centimetres. No evident pathology was observed on the exposed bone surfaces.