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Publication Date

January 2015


The discovery of two well-preserved human crania in a crevice overlooking a spring-fed creek near Austin, Texas, led to medico-legal, archeological, and bioanthropological investigations aimed at understanding the context and biological affinity of the crania. Archeological excavations uncovered no evidence that the crania were interred in the crevice during prehistoric times. Skeletal analysis showed they were of Native American ancestry. Radiocarbon dating indicated they are contemporary to one another and probably date to the seventh or eighth century A.D. Measured stable isotopic rations of carbon (13C/12C) and nitrogen (15N/14N) derived from human bone collagen samples from the crania are not consistent with other burial populations from the region, having higher nitrogen values than all other comparative samples. The crania also showed polish from repeated handling and several of the molars in one cranium had been glued in place. Taken together, these lines of evidence suggest the crania were removed from an unknown locality outside of the Central Texas region, kept in a private collection, and placed in the crevice recently.

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