October 31, 2013

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival XXXIV

Some skeletons for your Halloween... This month, we've got quality over quantity (that is, really interesting news, but not much of it).

New Finds

Roman skull unearthed in Crossrail Project. (via BBC)
  • 21 October - Oops! Etruscan Warrior Prince Really a Princess (via Discovery News). The other ongoing saga this month involves a previously unopened Etruscan tomb that revealed two individuals (one skeletonized, the other cremated) and a ton of grave goods, including a spear.  Archaeologists originally attributed the spear to the skeletonized remains and called it a "prince," but it seems that individual was female, whereas the cremated individual was male. There are additional pictures of the grave goods at Discovery News. More important, though, is the issue of assigning sex and/or gender to skeletal remains based on grave goods.  For more on the hopelessly gendered assumption that spear = man (and then sewing box = woman; see, for example, this Italian story about a "noble seamstress" and this headline from Discovery News), see Rosemary Joyce's important blog post. Honestly, I'm just going to wait for the proper osteological report before drawing conclusions.  Both skeletons seem to have been evaluated in the field for age and sex, but there hasn't been an official report yet.
Etruscan Prince(ss)? (via Discovery News)
  • 25 October - Roman Child's Grave Unearthed in Countryside near Hinckley (via The Hinckley Times). This find is particularly interesting because it's a lead casket -- that's what led metal detectorists to find it, actually.  As far as I can tell, though, the assumption that it's a child comes from the size of the sarcophagus.  And I have no idea why people are assuming it's a Christian burial.  There are lead sarcophagi in Rome and Roman Britain from the Empire.  This one dates to the 3rd century AD, according to news reports.  Here's more from the BBC.
3rd c AD lead sarcophagus found in Britain. (via Hinckley Times)

Other
  • 25 October - Le Ossa Svelano le Malattie di Roma Antica (via Il Messagero). This upcoming exhibit at the Museo Nazionale Romano should be really interesting, as it brings together data on palaeopathology from a variety of Rome-area cemeteries (including Casal Bertone, one of the cemeteries I studied for my dissertation).  If you're in Rome in the coming months, you should definitely go check it out (and send me notes!).
Articles
  • 1 March - And today's the last day you can download my Journal of Anthropological Archaeology article "Food for Rome" for free.  Check it out if you haven't already! I'm also happy to pass along a copy of my annotated bibliography of bioarchaeology, which came out at the beginning of October. It's particularly useful for undergrad and grad students interested in bioarchaeology.

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