Author(s): Lovell NC
This paper reviews the mechanisms of injury and the types of fractures that most commonly affect the human skeleton, presents descriptive protocols for cranial and postcranial fractures adapted from clinical and forensic medicine, and summarizes anatomically the injuries most likely to be found in archaeological skeletons along with their most common causes and complications. Mechanisms of injury are categorized as direct and indirect trauma, stress, and fracture that occurs secondary to pathology. These are considered to be the proximate, or most direct, causes of injury and they are influenced by intrinsic biological factors such as age and sex, and extrinsic environmental factors, both physical and sociocultural, that may be thought of as the ultimate, or remote, causes of injury. Interpersonal conflict may be one of those causes but the skeletal evidence itself is rarely conclusive and must therefore be evaluated in its individual, populational, sociocultural, and physical context. A cautionary tale regarding parry fractures is presented as an illustration. Yrbk Phys Anthropol 40:139–170, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.