Bio: Lourdes Herrasti is an academic researcher. The author has contributed to research in topics: Spanish Civil War & Population. The author has an hindex of 6, co-authored 30 publications receiving 123 citations.
TL;DR: The genetic identification of human remains found in 26 mass graves located in Northern Spain shows a partial identification success rate, which is clearly a consequence of the lack of both appropriate family members for genetic comparisons and accurate information about the victims' location.
Abstract: The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and posterior dictatorship (until 1970s) stands as one of the major conflicts in the recent history of Spain. It led to nearly two hundred thousand men and women executed or murdered extra-judicially or after dubious legal procedures. Nowadays, most of them remain unidentified or even buried in irretraceable mass graves across Spain. Here, we present the genetic identification of human remains found in 26 mass graves located in Northern Spain. A total of 252 post-mortem remains were analyzed and compared to 186 relatives, allowing the identification of 87 victims. Overall, a significant success of DNA profiling was reached, since informative profiles (≥ 12 STRs and/or mitochondrial DNA profile) were obtained in 85.71% of the remains. This high performance in DNA profiling from challenging samples demonstrated the efficacy of DNA extraction and amplification methods used herein, given that only around 14.29% of the samples did not provide an informative genetic profile for the analysis performed, probably due to the presence of degraded and/or limited DNA in these remains. However, this study shows a partial identification success rate, which is clearly a consequence of the lack of both appropriate family members for genetic comparisons and accurate information about the victims' location. Hence, further perseverance in the exhumation of other intact graves as well as in the search of more alleged relatives is crucial in order to facilitate and increase the number of genetic identifications.
19 Apr 2012
TL;DR: The proposed San Juan ante Portam Latinam was used as burial place for the mainly adolescent and adult male dead of a particular or multiple violent engagements, while previously or subsequently seeing use for attritional burial by other members of one or more surrounding communities dead over the course of a few generations.
Abstract: OBJECTIVES San Juan ante Portam Latinam is one of a small number of European Neolithic sites meeting many of the archaeological criteria expected for a mass grave, and furthermore presents evidence for violent conflict. This study aims to differentiate between what is potentially a single episode of deposition, versus deposition over some centuries, or, alternatively, that resulting from a combination of catastrophic and attritional mortality. The criteria developed are intended to have wider applicability to other such proposed events. MATERIAL AND METHODS Ten new AMS 14 C determinations on human bone from the site, together with previously available dates, are analyzed through Bayesian modeling to refine the site's chronology. This is used together with the population's demographic profile as the basis for agent-based demographic modeling. RESULTS The new radiocarbon results, while improving the site's chronology, fail to resolve the question whether the burial represents a single event, or deposition over decades or centuries-primarily because the dates fall within the late fourth millennium BC plateau in the calibration curve. The demographic modeling indicates that the population's age and sex distribution fits neither a single catastrophic event nor a fully attritional mortality profile, but instead may partake of elements of both. DISCUSSION It is proposed that San Juan ante Portam Latinam was used as burial place for the mainly adolescent and adult male dead of a particular or multiple violent engagements (e.g., battles), while previously or subsequently seeing use for attritional burial by other members of one or more surrounding communities dead over the course of a few generations. The overall bias towards males, particularly to the extent that many may represent conflict mortality, has implications for the structure of the surviving community, the members of which may have experienced increased vulnerability in the face of neighboring aggressors.
TL;DR: It is shown that autopsy marks can be found in the remains of victims of human rights violations exhumed from cemeteries, and Skeletal and archival information could be useful for the identification process in other cases of large-scale violence.
Abstract: The presence of autopsy marks in human skeletal remains indicates a medicolegal procedure related to ascertaining the cause and manner of death. We present here four cases where signs of autopsy were observed in the remains recovered from mass graves and cemeteries of prisoners from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), victims of extrajudicial executions, and of death in prison, respectively. With respect to the former, historical evidence indicate that during the first weeks after the coup, official removal of cadavers and autopsy procedures were carried out to the first victims of extrajudicial killings, whose corpses were found abandoned in the road. Once the civil war was established and systematic extrajudicial killings were systematic, official military orders were issued to stop standard forensic proceedings. Therefore, autopsy marks observed in the remains exhumed from mass graves located in cemeteries may be indicative of an earlier chronology of the killings, and this information proved to be relevant for the identification process in one of the cases presented. In a cemetery of political prisoners, autopsy signs were also observed in two skeletal remains and in the official records of two prisoners, a corroboration of information also relevant for the identification process. These findings indicate that autopsy marks can be found in the remains of victims of human rights violations exhumed from cemeteries. Skeletal and archival information could be useful for the identification process in other cases of large-scale violence, where the first victims of extrajudicial executions were buried unidentified in cemeteries after autopsy procedures.
25 Nov 2013
TL;DR: In the case of mass graves, the main immediate objectives of these forensic projects have been the return of the remains to the families and/or the collection of evidence to establish accountability and bring those responsible to justice.
Abstract: During the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of people have been victims of extrajudicial executions worldwide, in episodes of violence associated with armed conﬂicts, political repression and ethnic cleansing (Shelton 2005). From the crimes committed during the Second World War, to the political repression in dictatorial regimes in Latin America (e.g. Chile, Argentina, Guatemala) and east Asia (e.g. Cambodia), to the recent conﬂicts in the former Yugoslavia, central Africa and the Middle East, in most of these cases the victims of the killings have been illegally buried in clandestine mass graves. In this context, we deﬁne a mass grave after the deﬁnition provided by the United Nations special rapporteur to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as a location where three or more bodies are buried, victims of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, not having died in combat or armed confrontations (ICTY 1996). In many cases, forensic projects have been organized in order to exhume and identify theremains of the victims from these mass graves. The main immediate objectives of these forensic projects have been the return of the remains to the families and/or the collection of evidence to establish accountability and bring those responsible to justice (although in all cases there should be an ethical and practical commitment for personal identiﬁcation of the remains). More generally, the information obtained from these projects, together with information obtained from interviews of survivals, relatives of the victims, witnesses and perpetrators, fulﬁl the role of a public recognition of the episodes of violence and reaﬃrmation of the dignity of the victims, with the twofold objective of avoiding denial of those episodes and of their divulgation for a critical rejection of violence (Haglund 2002). Some of the earliest exhumations of mass graves were related to the Second World War,1for example those carried out at Katyn (Russia), where thousands of oﬃcers of the Polish armywere executed and buried in mass graves by members of the Soviet Army in 1940. Subsequently, the Nazi Army (1943) and the Soviet Army (1944) carried out exhumations of these graves, although the main objective of both projects was to collect evidence of the killings for accusing the opponent (Taylor 1992). Legally, the search for systematic crimes against civil population goes back to the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 (including the Martens Clause that provided the distinction between combatant and non-combatant populations), the Leipzig War Crime Trials after the First World War, and especially the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials after the Second World War, which used large-scale forensic evidence for the prosecution of war crimes. The reconstruction of international relations after Second World War resulted in the foundation of the United Nations and Resolution 95-I of 1946, which consolidated the notion of crimes against humanity and notion of crimes of war (Ball 1999; Capella 2011; Valencia 2011). With regard to the exhumation of mass graves, the next signiﬁcant advance came with the denunciations of crimes committed by the Latin American dictatorial regimes during the 1970s and 1980s, and the subsequent foundation in 1984 of the ﬁrst forensic team dedicated to the search of missing persons, the Argentinian Team of Forensic Anthropology (Doretti and Snow 2003). After this initiative followed the development of the ﬁrst protocol for the investigation and prevention of arbitrary executions and documentation of torture (United Nations 1991), the investigation of mass graves from the Second World War in Ukraine in 1990 (Bevan 1994) and especially the implementation by United Nations of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1993, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994, both of which have made extensive use of the information obtained from the exhumation and analysis of human remains from mass graves. During the 1990s, diverse national (e.g. Guatemala, Peru) and international (e.g. United Nations, Physicians for Human Rights, International Commission for Missing Persons) forensic teams were created and exhumations of mass graves have been carried out worldwide by these and other teams, with bioarchaeologists playing an important role alongside forensic pathologists and other professionals (Skinner et al. 2003; Skinner and Sterenberg 2005). This brief summary of the killings involving civil populations and their subsequent investiga-tion during the twentieth century should include Spain. On 18 July 1936, a fascist coup promoted by a faction of the Spanish army was carried out against the elected government of the Spanish Republic, unleashing a civil war that lasted three years (1936-9) and ended in an extreme right-wing dictatorship led by General Franco, who remained in power until his death in 1975. It has been estimated that during the Spanish Civil War and the ﬁrst ten years of the dictatorship that followed, at least 175,000 people were killed away from the battleﬁeld, most of them buried in mass graves. This number refers to “violent deaths away from the frontline, excluding bombing of defenseless cities. Victims of paseos, sacas, shootings at the walls of cemeteries, executions carried out by death sentences from martial courts or popular tribunals” (Julia 1999: 407-14). Unlike other cases of systematic human rights violations, these crimes have not been oﬃcially investigated by any legitimate Spanish government, commission or court, and the investigation of the pattern of violence exerted in the territories controlled by both sides has been conducted by historians (Julia 1999; Espinosa 2009, 2012; Preston 2012). One of the most recent investigations indicate that the Republican violence had cost the lives of 49,000 people, while the Francoist violence had cost the lives of at least 127,000 (Preston 2012). Consistent with this lack of oﬃcial investigation, there has been no oﬃcial forensic exhumation project of the mass graves. Nevertheless, exhumations of mass graves occurred during the immediate post-war period, promoted by the dictatorship in order to identify victims of Republican violence, and during the last years of dictatorship and the transition to democracy (1975-82), when hundreds of exhumations were carried out to recover the victims of Francoist violence by the familiesthemselves, without any state support (e.g. Aguirre 2008). These exhumations declined after the attempted coup of 23 February 1981, but in 2000 a Spanish journalist searching for his grandfather contacted an archaeologist, a physical anthropologist and a forensic doctor, who carried out the ﬁrst exhumation of a mass grave from the Spanish Civil War using archaeological methods (Silva and Macias 2003). The remains of 13 persons were exhumed and the grandfather of the journalist was identiﬁed. That exhumation sparked a large number of requests for exhumations and – according to a database managed by the Society of Sciences Aranzadi (Donostia, Basque Country), the purpose of which is to compile basic data from the exhumations carried out in Spain – to date 330 mass graves have been exhumed and 6,174 remains have been recovered at the request of families of Republicans, with the objective of identify the remains and burying them in a legal and digniﬁed place. The lack of a legal instrument to deal seriously with the investigation of the human rights violations that occurred in Spain during the civil war and the dictatorship has resulted in the absence, or partial support, of the Spanish public administrations to the exhumations. The responsibility for this task has been delegated to the families of the victims, who have personally contacted professionals from diﬀerent disciplines to carry out the exhumation and identiﬁcation process. In this highly criticized model of exhumations (Escudero 2011), our team has participated in more than 50 exhumations of mass graves from diﬀerent Spanish provinces, and the results of our main objective – the identiﬁcation and return of the remains to the families – has been described elsewhere (Rios et al. 2010, 2012; Etxeberria et al. 2012). As previously mentioned, the main objective of the exhumations of victims of systematichuman rights violations should be the identiﬁcation of the remains, but as indicated by TidballBinz (2008: xii), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recommended a focus “on the proper recovery, management and identiﬁcation and human remains, with the understanding that this is as important as establishing the cause, manner, and circumstances of death of the deceased”. Furthermore, Baraybar and Gasior (2006: 103) explained that “the analysis of the signs of peri-mortem trauma by the anthropologist ultimately leads the pathologist to make a determination as to the individual’s cause of death, which is vital to the prosecution of war crimes”. As explained above, there is no such investigation or prosecution of these crimes in Spain, and our skeletal analysis is focused on the identiﬁcation of the remains, but we also proceed to a detailed study of the peri-mortem trauma as a mandatory part of our report in order to provide as much information as possible with regard to the clariﬁcation of the cause, manner and circumstances of death, as well as to leave a record that may be useful for professionals working in other cases of systematic violations of human rights. The objective of this chapter is therefore to present the ﬁrst systematic description of the peri-mortem trauma observed in skeletons exhumed from mass graves from the Spanish Civil War.
TL;DR: The distribution of bone lesions was found to change from mainly spinal in earlier time periods to include more cases in other regions of the skeleton in later time periods, an important addition to the current knowledge of the evolution of the disease and the Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Abstract: Tuberculosis is a re-emerging disease and is a major problem in both developing and developed countries today. An estimated one third of the world's population is infected and almost two million people die from the disease each year. Bone lesions occur in 3-5% of active tuberculosis cases and can be used to diagnose the disease in ancient skeletal remains. A meta-analysis was conducted on 531 palaeopathological tuberculosis cases from 221 sites (7250 BCE to 1899) on all continents for the purpose of testing two hypotheses; (1) the frequency of bone lesions does not change through time and (2) the distribution of lesions throughout the skeleton does not change over time. The frequency of bone lesions was found to significantly decrease over time (P<0.05). The distribution of bone lesions was found to change from mainly spinal in earlier time periods to include more cases in other regions of the skeleton (long bones, joints, hands, feet) in later time periods. This difference in distribution was evaluated using a Chi-squared test and found to be significant (P<0.01). These findings are an important addition to the current knowledge of the evolution of the disease and the Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
•05 Dec 2019
TL;DR: Lillios as mentioned in this paper provides an up-to-date synthesis of the rich histories of the peoples who lived on the Iberian Peninsula between 1,400,000 and 3,500 years ago (the Bronze Age) as revealed in their art, burials, tools, and monuments.
Abstract: In this book, Katina Lillios provides an up-to-date synthesis of the rich histories of the peoples who lived on the Iberian Peninsula between 1,400,000 (the Paleolithic) and 3,500 years ago (the Bronze Age) as revealed in their art, burials, tools, and monuments. She highlights the exciting new discoveries on the Peninsula, including the evidence for some of the earliest hominins in Europe, Neanderthal art, interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans, and relationships to peoples living in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and Western Europe. This is the first book to relate the ancient history of the Peninsula to broader debates in anthropology and archaeology. Amply illustrated and written in an accessible style, it will be of interest to archaeologists and students of prehistoric Spain and Portugal.
TL;DR: It is argued why Y-chromosomal analysis and its genetic genealogical applications will still perform an important role in future interdisciplinary research.
Abstract: The Y chromosome is currently by far the most popular marker in genetic genealogy that combines genetic data and family history. This popularity is based on its haploid character and its close association with the patrilineage and paternal inherited surname. Other markers have not been found (yet) to overrule this status due to the low sensitivity and precision of autosomal DNA for genetic genealogical applications, given the vagaries of recombination, and the lower capacities of mitochondrial DNA combined with an in general much lower interest in maternal lineages. The current knowledge about the Y chromosome and the availability of markers with divergent mutation rates make it possible to answer questions on relatedness levels which differ in time depth; from the individual and familial level to the surnames, clan and population level. The use of the Y chromosome in genetic genealogy has led to applications in several well-established research disciplines; namely in, e.g., family history, demography, anthropology, forensic sciences, population genetics and sex chromosome evolution. The information obtained from analysing this chromosome is not only interesting for academic scientists but also for the huge and lively community of amateur genealogists and citizen-scientists, fascinated in analysing their own genealogy or surname. This popularity, however, has also some drawbacks, mainly for privacy reasons related to the DNA donor, his close family and far-related namesakes. In this review paper we argue why Y-chromosomal analysis and its genetic genealogical applications will still perform an important role in future interdisciplinary research.
TL;DR: This article examines a third alternative in the form of polyurethane plates and spheres marketed as viable proxies for human bone in ballistic experiments and establishes that such material generally responds similarly to bone on a broad, macroscopic scale but when examined in closer detail exhibits a range of dissimilarities that call for caution in extrapolating such results to real bone.
TL;DR: The identification process of a mass grave from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is presented and the osteological and DNA study led investigators to propose the identification of two kin groups, a father and his son and a pair of brothers.