Archaeologists in Italy have discovered the remains of a Medieval woman who appeared to give a coffin birth. This results when a pregnant woman dies without giving birth to the child she is carrying. Both were already dead at the time that the woman was buried in the grave.
Coffin births are an extremely rare find.
Medieval Coffin Birth
Archaeologists discovered this body back in 2010 in Imola, Italy and are from the 7th or 8th century AD. Researchers from the University of Ferrara and University of Bologna studied the grave to find out more information about the life of the Medieval woman before she died. The team published their study in World Neurosurgery.
The woman was found in a grave on her back, showing that it was intended to be a resting place. Near the woman's pelvis, researchers saw a collection of small bones. To add more to the mystery, the woman's skull featured a hole that showed some sort of primitive medical procedure had been performed.
Researchers say that this type of birth is known as a post-mortem fetal extrusion or a coffin birth. This happened 2 to 5 days after the death of a pregnant woman. The fetus is forced out of the body after gases build up inside of the woman's body, the fetus was dead at the time that it was ejected from the body. The fetus' feet were still inside of the body after it was ejected.
This type of birth has never observed before. Researchers think that this may happen when gases build up inside of the body. Coffin births are rare because of the way bodies are prepared before they are buried.
The woman was found to be between 25 to 35 years old, and she was 38 weeks pregnant. The fetus was positioned for birth, and it was already in a head down position.
This would only leave the mystery of the hole in her head. Scientists believe that the 4.6 mm hole was caused by a primitive type of brain surgery called trepanation. Signs of healing to the skull show that the woman survived for one week after the procedure was performed.
Researchers have come up with a theory about the need for trepanation, she was suffering from eclampsia. Eclampsia is a condition where a pregnant woman gets seizures when she is suffering from high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
This procedure was performed on pregnant women during the Middle Ages to treat eclampsia. Researchers are still not sure what the cause of the death is for the woman. They have determined that it could've been the trepanation, eclampsia, or even a problem during the birth of the baby.