Some Roman(ish) bioarch news for the month of August...
Finds and Features
|Wealthy Sarmatian burial (via RiaNovosti)|
|"Mass grave" at Pisidia Antiocheia (via Hurriyet)|
|Skeleton and mask found at Aizanoi (via Hurriyet)|
- 6 August. Archaeologists find treasures at ancient Russian burial cite [sic]. [PanArmenian.net] Originally, this find, likely associated with the Sarmatians (roughly 500 BC to 400 AD) in southern Russia, was heralded as the tomb of a noble woman on account of the jewelry, mirror, and other decorations covering the body. Later in the month (20 August), however, it was reported that Russian "Amazon" buried with cosmetics could be man [RiaNovosti]. Seems that the original sex determination was made on the artifacts alone and that after an osteologist had a look at them, they were much more male in morphology. I suspect that the archaeologists will want a DNA analysis to confirm because *gasp* a man buried with "woman" things? We may have another gay caveman on our hands...
- 8 August. Crossrail tunnel project uncovers ancient burial ground - including Bedlam patients. [Independent] It sounds like the majority of the 4,000 skeletons they expect to find as excavation continues in London are from only about 150 years ago, but there have also been plenty of Roman-era coins, roads, and other stuff found. Should be a neat project to follow up on.
- 16 August. Mass grave found in the ancient city of Pisidia Antiocheia. [Hurriyet Daily News] A well in a Roman villa containing the remains of at least 6 humans and one pig was discovered at Pisidia Antiocheia in Turkey. Seems another set of bodies was found in a well a month or so ago, just nearby. No osteological report, unfortunately, as I'd like to know if these are adults or kids. If these are neonatal bodies, their disposal or burial in a well is not terribly surprising. If these are just adult heads, well, that's a bit more puzzling. Either way, not sure the "mass grave" terminology applies. Hopefully there will be more info out soon.
- 20 August. Rome's start to architectural hubris. [New York Times] Great piece on Gabii, the site at which I've been working since 2010. It mostly covers the architecture, which is telling us new and cool things about, in particular, monumentality prior to the Empire, but there are also a few dozen bodies at the site from a number of time periods.
- 20 August. Archaeologists discover hidden slave tunnel beneath Hadrian's villa. [Telegraph] Over two miles of tunnels were recently discovered underneath emperor Hadrian's sprawling villa at Tivoli, just outside of Rome. Archaeologists are suggesting these underground passageways were for slaves moving from one part of the villa to another. Pretty neat! (And would you believe that I've still never been to Tivoli? I tried -- twice -- and was thwarted both times by public transport and/or Italians' penchant for closing sites randomly.)
- 20 August. 2,000-year-old skeleton mask discovered in Turkey. [Hurriyet] Not much news on this. Just a skeleton with a mask. Pretty cool, though -- see pic above.
- 23 August. Ancient Libyan necropolis threatened by real estate speculators. [France 24] Technically Greek-era rather than Roman (600-400 BC), but some sad destruction to a massive necropolis at Cyrene that includes (included?) over 1,000 burials with sarcophagi.
- 7 August. Another summer, another series of breathless press releases from Silvano Vinceti, who is convinced that he has found or will soon find the skeleton of Lisa del Giocondo, the woman who purportedly posed for Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. In 2011, I wrote about this ridiculousness over at Past Horizons with "The Skull with the Mona Lisa Smile," and in 2012, I wrote a follow-up on the "Return of the Mona Lisa" here at PbO. This summer, we get "DNA testing could confirm Mona Lisa model" [via Gazzetta del Sud]. I spoke with a science reporter at NBC News about this -- since I still think it's ridiculous and amounts to nothing more than historical voyeurism -- in "Mona Lisa skeleton and her kin's remains are due for DNA testing."
- 21 August. Tomb of Alexander the Great unearthed? [Greek Reporter] This brief and really vague piece kicked off a torrent of speculation by media outlets around the web, but it seems to be based on, well, nothing. The Rogue Classicist has a fantastic round-up of the coverage and the problems with said coverage. And a blog post over at Archaiologia.gr tries to set the record straight with quotes from archaeologist Ekaterini Peristeri.
- 30 August. Pompeii ruins preservation to begin in 2014 after years of neglect. [Guardian] This seems to be a German-led project that will work to provide advice and help with the conservation and restoration of Pompeii, which has been falling down over the past few years due to lack of funding and interest from the Italian government.
- 1 August. Genetic evidence does not support an Etruscan origin in Anatolia [F. Tassi et al., AJPA 152(1) 11-18]. I haven't read the original article, but Dienekes has a nice blog post about it, and there's a decent discussion happening in the commentary section.
- 6 August. Roman sex, sexuality, slaves, and lex scantina. [M. Milligan, Heritage Daily] Only tangentially related to bioarchaeology, but this essay interestingly lays out some of the culture and laws behind sexuality, specifically sexual relationships between men.
- 9 August. Catalhoyuk 2013: Week 7 - Ghost town. [S. Haddow, A Bone to Pick] Quick post on post-excavation analysis of burials at Catalhoyuk, including a photo of a Roman-era skeleton.
- 5-22 August. Over here at Powered by Osteons, I blogged about my efforts to put some of my Roman skeletal/isotope data online at GitHub, and about how my article "Food for Rome" was one of the top-downloaded articles this year, meaning JAA is giving it away for free through the end of October. So if you didn't get a copy before, check it out now.
Finally, a neat video. It dates from 2008, but I'd never seen it before. This is "Opening a Roman Coffin at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, UK, by Wessex Archaeology." Enjoy! [Watch on YouTube]