Asian Journal of Paleopathology Vol.5, 30–34, 2023
Received: February 19, 2023
Accepted: March 1, 2023
DOI: 10.32247/ajp2023.5.4

Case Study
A Fragment of Mandible with Cut Wounds Excavated from a Boundary Ditch in the Grounds of a Samurai Residence of the Fukui-Jo Castle

Shiori Fujisawa, Yumiko Oyabu

   There are not many reported cases of clear traces of decapitation on excavated human bones. In this report, I examined the possibility of decapitation using a single mandible excavated from the site of a samurai residence of the early modern Fukui-jo Castle. This mandible had sharp cut wounds on the mandibular base and ramus (angle of the mandible), and it is highly probable that the injuries occurred around the time of death, based on the color tone and the condition of the wounds. Since there is one cut wound and two incision wounds in the mandible, all from the dorsal to ventral side, it is believed that this mandible was formed by an act aimed at decapitation. However, if the executioner's technique is inexperienced, he may miss the target and cut into the back of the head or shoulder. Also, the beheaded person may be frightened and move, which can cause the executioner to miss the target. This mandible is thought to be the result of such a situation. In addition, since the wounds are not coplanar and there is evidence of multiple sword strikes, the mandible wounds are related to the cause of death, but at the same time, any of the multiple wounds may have been created for the purpose of decapitation after death.