Journal List > Anat Biol Anthropol > v.32(2) > 1129906

Anat Biol Anthropol. 2019 Jun;32(2):69-75. Korean.
Published online Jun 30, 2019.
© 2019 Korean Association of Physical Anthropologists
A Case Study of the Fetal Skeleton from a Joseon Period Cemetery
Eun Jin Woo,1 and Chae Lin Jeon2
1Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, Sejong University, Korea.
2Department of Anthropology, College of Social Sciences, Seoul National University & ROK MND MAKRI Identification Center, Korea.

Correspondence to: Email:
Received May 15, 2019; Revised Jun 05, 2019; Accepted Jun 07, 2019.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In this study, the case of the burial of a couple with their perinatal child in a cemetery from the Joseon period (Eunpyeong site) of South Korea was examined. In archaeological populations, high mortality rates of young females are often associated with problems related to pregnancy and childbirth. However, discoveries of pregnant women and fetal skeletons are very rare in archaeological research. Here, we report the case of a burial of a pregnant female and her perinatal child from a Joseon period cemetery site.

The gestational age of fetus was estimated to be between 8.5 months and 9.5 months based on the cranial size and long bone length. The pregnant female under study appears to have died with fetal remains in utero. An examination of this case did not provide evidence that stress of obstetrical event was the direct cause of death. The rare case presented here makes a valuable contribution to the literature on pregnancy and obstetrical issues in past populations.

Keywords: Fetus; Childbirth; Gestational age; Archaeological site; Burial site


Fig. 1
Photo and drawing of burial 4-1-210, adapted from [9].
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Fig. 2
Fetal skeleton from Burial 4-1-210 showing the degree of skeletal preservation (White skeleton: 8 months fetus from Bone Clones).
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Table 1
Skeletal measurements and gestational age in fetal weeks
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