August 7, 2007

Delay

Your pathology for the week is being delayed a day. I found something veeeeeeery exciting today but didn't have time to fully analyze it and take pics today (since I had to go in search of the other box, which took me an hour to find). But a quick update... I got some information on my new cemetery from a colleague yesterday. In addition to this being very useful information on the skeletons I'm analyzing, I found out two really cool things:

  • The excavators found a burial of a child of about 3 years old. The child was buried face down, which is odd for two reasons: first, most people are buried face-up, and second, most children under 5 were buried in amphorae, not directly in the ground. To top that, the child was buried with an egg in his or her left hand. The excavators say it's a chicken egg, but I'm not sure about this. Based on the very quick research I did into this practice, there is evidence of eggs being found in Etruscan tombs, and an infant was found in the necropolis under the Vatican (the one found when they were putting in a car park) buried with an egg as well.
  • One adult male was also found lying on his back with his right forearm in a terracotta pipe. These pipes were often placed into the ground so that libations of olive oil and wine could be poured directly from the ground surface into the grave. I don't think there is any way that his arm could have gotten into the pipe accidentally through some sort of taphonomic process. But I also don't think that he was buried alive (as some of you guessed when I mentioned this). It's more likely that he was buried that way on purpose so that the libations could directly reach his right hand. For what reason, though, I don't know. I'll have to do some digging.
I also have pictures of these burials. But, since the site hasn't been published and is still being excavated as I type, I can't post them. You'll just have to wait with bated breath for my dissertation. :)

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