English » Field Projects » Tell Nader Project » Human Remains

Written by Dr. Sherry Fox.

The human skeletal remains from two primary inhumation burials have been recovered, to date, from the archaeological site of Tell Nader. Recovery of the human skeletal material from TN 1 had been directed by the eponymous Mr. Nader Babakr Muhammed prior to the University of Athens’ excavations in April/May 2011.

TN 1 is currently stored at the Erbil Civilization Museum. TN 1 was recovered from a broken jar with the legs in a hyper-flexed position. It is posited that the skeleton was bound prior to placement in the jar. The individual is largely incomplete and in a fair-to-poor state of preservation. The sex of the individual is indeterminate at present, but future study could help elucidate the sex. The age-at-death of the individual is estimated to have been 36 years + 10 years. Ten teeth have been recovered from TN 1 that require further analysis. There are non-metric traits recorded for this individual along with a possible pathology. Stature reconstruction was not attempted as no complete long bones were recovered from TN 1. Aside from the jar, no other artifacts are associated with TN 1. It is hoped that more of TN 1 will be recovered from excavations during the coming field season.

The second skeleton (TN 2) was found in situ on April 27th within a circular burial cist grave. The virtually circularly shaped enclosure, measured approximately 110 cm x 90 cm at its greatest diameter and 85 cm x 75 cm at the inside diameter with an apparent channel running along the outside circumference, near both a large ceramic sherd and on either side of two tile fragments. The cranium of TN 2 was abutting the inside circumference of the burial enclosure comprised of clay and tiles. The cranium was positioned slightly on its left side, facing down (inferiorly) toward the west, and along with the remainder of the skeleton, it appears to have been interred in a prone position with the arms and legs flexed to the left such that the right hip was likely inferior. Prone burials are not that common, from the author’s experience. The femora were positioned toward the east of the cist grave. Although the human skeleton from within this circular enclosure was primarily interred, it appears to have been slightly disturbed. Once again, the preservation of the human remains is fair-to-poor. The age of this individual appears to be adult, although a more precise age-at-death remains to be estimated and the individual’s sex remains to be determined. This material requires further study in a laboratory setting and the remains have been temporarily transferred to the Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. At present, there are no known pathological lesions nor non-metric traits preserved. Reconstruction of adult living stature has not been attempted at this time for this individual either. There were very few grave goods associated with TN 2 in this rather simple grave. Future analyses should help provide greater information about this individual.