Care and consequences of traumatic brain injury in Neolithic Sweden: A case study of ante mortem skull trauma and brain injury addressed through the bioarchaeology of care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A number of papers have provided insight into frequencies of violence-related trauma, especially skull trauma, in Northern European skeletal assemblages dating to the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Although the cases are often well described, they lack further discussion about the consequences of skull trauma for the injured individual and the implications for the surrounding society, especially considering severe skull trauma leading to traumatic brain injuries. In this paper, we address questions of trauma and care for one individual associated with the Swedish-Norwegian Battle Axe Culture who suffered from 2 severe ante mortem skull traumas probably leading to brain injuries. These questions are addressed using the Web-based application and analytic tool Index of Care. We found that daily care, both short term with basic needs such as nutrition and grooming and long term with cognitive impairments, was available in the Neolithic society. Considering the frequent number of ante mortem skull trauma in the Neolithic and Bronze Age skeletal assemblages, traumatic brain injury was probably a common phenomenon. We argue that the care provided was a necessity for survival and maintenance of a socially sustainable society.


External organisations
  • Sunderby Hospital
  • Luleå University of Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology


  • Battle Axe Culture, Bioarchaeology of care, Interpersonal violence, Neolithic, Skull trauma, Transition analysis, Traumatic brain injury
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-198
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Issue number2
Early online date2018 Mar 12
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar
Publication categoryResearch

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Tornberg, A. (Role not specified)
2018 Aug 282018 Sep 1

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