Death in the Gobi: a Case Study of Skeletal Trauma from the Hets Mountain Cave in Mongolia
Ramazani, Christina Marie
AdvisorZuckerman, Molly K.
CommitteeGalaty, Michael L.
Herrmann, Nicholas P.
This study represents a contextualized analysis of the perimortem trauma and postmortem treatment of an assemblage (n=9) of naturally mummified individuals recovered from the Hets Mountain Cave in southern Mongolia. The assemblage dates AD 1434-1651, a period characterized by political instability and widespread conflict. Analysis of the trauma was completed utilizing radiological evaluation of 3D CT data. The perimortem trauma and postmortem treatment are contextualized within documentary and archaeological data on contemporary Mongolian mortuary and cultural practices to understand the social identities of these individuals. The trauma patterns are consistent with execution methods reserved for higher status Mongolians; the mortuary treatment is suggestive of a hybrid of Shamanistic and Lamaistic mortuary practices reserved for higher status Mongolians. These findings speak to the utility of case-study based analyses in complementing more top-down historical studies for understanding the effects of political instability and widespread conflict upon individuals during poorly documented time periods.