Long bone fractures identified in the Joseon Dynasty human skeletons of Korea

Deog Kyeom Kim, Myeung Ju Kim, Yi-Suk Kim, Chang Seok Oh, Sang-Seob Lee, Sang Beom Lim, Ho Chul Ki, Dong Hoon Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fracture is one of the pathological signs most frequently encountered in archaeologically obtained bones. To expand the paleopathological knowledge on traumatic injuries, it is desirable to secure data on long bone fractures from as wide a geographic and temporal range as possible. We present, for the first time, evidence of long bone fractures in a 16th-18th century Joseon skeletal series (n=96). In this study, we found 3 Colles' fractures of the radius in 2 individual cases. The pattern of fractures was unique. Although previous reports show that the ulna is broken more often than the radius, ulnar fracture associated with fending off a blunt attack was rare in our series (1/7 cases). Transverse fractures, typically caused by intentional violence, were also very rare (1/7 cases) in this study. These results may reflect the relatively tranquil lives of the Joseon people in 16th-18th century Korea. We also found post-fracture complications such as deformations, bone length shortening, and osteomyelitis. The present study would be of interest to medical scientists in related fields because it is one of the few studies conducted on long bone fractures among pre-modern societies in East Asian countries, thus far.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-9
Number of pages7
JournalAnatomy and Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

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