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Sebald, Sidney; Stenzel, Lisa; Grünewald, Martin; Grupe, Gisela (2018): Skeletal remains of neonates from the roman cemetery of gunzburg (bavaria, frg) - how long did the newborns survive? Microscopic assessment of the presence of the neonatal line in dental enamel. In: Anthropologie-International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution, Vol. 56, No. 1: pp. 1-10
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Abstract

At the large Roman cemetery at Giinzburg (Bavaria), 58 uncremated skeletons of small children who died before an age of 18 months have been excavated between the years 1976 and 2008, among them 42 neonates. Longitudinal thin sections of 30 primary teeth from ten neonates, six children between birth and six months of age, and three children between six and nine months of age, were prepared for the detection of presence or absence of the neonatal line. The teeth of those children where morphology indicated survival of birth for at least afew months served as control. If present, the neonatal line was clearly detectable, especially in primary molars. With regard to the variability of the developmental stage of a skeleton as indicated by morphological parameters, the presence of the neonatal line is clear evidence for birth survival for at least one or two weeks. According to this feature, 4 out of the 19 individuals had been aged either too young or too old. Since even short time survival of a newborn is dependent on parental investment, it is crucial to firmly distinguish a neonate from a perinatal child. We recommend that age estimation of infants should be augmented with histologicalfeatures.