It's still pretty quiet in the world of Roman bioarchaeology, but I keep thinking this'll change as soon as summer excavations start trumpeting their findings to the news media, maybe around August or September. Until then, I'm stretching the time-period of "Roman" bioarchaeology a bit to bring you some interesting news...
New Finds and Theories
- 28 April - "Gioconda: martedi il prelievo dei resti mortali della Cappella dei Martiri. Poi l'analisi per scoprire se sono di Monna Lisa" (La Nazione). I only see one English-language news story on the latest development in the years-long Mona Lisa skeleton saga: "Italy grave dug up in search for Mona Lisa" (PressTV.ir). It seems that Italian archaeologists dug up a grave believed to have belonged to the family of Franceso del Giocondo, Mona Lisa's husband. But since we haven't heard anything more, I guess they didn't find what they were looking for. (Previous installments of the saga -- PbO from 2011, PbO from 2012, and news coverage from 2013.)
- 13 May - "Mummified fetus found in tiny ancient Egyptian sarcophagus" (Discovery News). A tiny sarcophagus from about 600 B.C. was long thought to be some sort of fake, but a new CT scan has revealed a fetus of about 12 to 16 weeks' gestation. Iconography is consistent with male individuals, but DNA analysis of the fetus hasn't been done to confirm.
|Worsley Man (credit: Manchester Evening News)|
- 16 May - "Groundbreaking scan reveals evidence of ritual human sacrifice... in Salford [UK]" (Manchester Evening News). So-called Worsley Man's head was found in a bog in the 1950s. He's thought to date to about 100 AD. A recent 3D CT scan found a sharp, pointy object in his neck, which archaeologists seem to think was a ceremonial spear. His injuries also included lots of blunt trauma to his head, and he was strangled and decapitated. Not sure why this is "ritual human sacrifice" and not "someone did some nasty things to this man."
- 19 May - "Petra, built for the sun gods?" (CNN). Although not specifically about the skeletons found there, this article quotes bioarchaeologist Megan Perry, who runs the Petra North Ridge Project.
- 27 May - "2,300-year-old false tooth removed in northern France" (The Guardian). The headline is kind of nonsensical if you read it too many times, but it seems a burial of a woman was found in which she had an iron post placed into a tooth socket after her death. Kind of cool to see some postmortem dentistry, though, in pre-Roman times.
Articles (New and Newly Online)
- Not new but recently posted at Academia.edu is Sherry Fox's article "Health in Hellenistic and Roman Times: The Case Studies of Paphos, Cyprus, and Corinth, Greece" from the 2005 edited volume Health in Antiquity.
- 9 May - "Lead poisoning in Rome - The geoarchaeological evidence" (Powered by Osteons). I wrote about a newish article that looks at lead contamination of the Tiber watershed in antiquity. I also, of course, put the crazy media coverage in perspective. Surprise surprise, many outlets got the article's conclusions wrong. This also follows up on my post "Lead poisoning in Rome - the skeletal evidence" from 2012.
- 28 May - "What have the Romans ever done for us? [Penny Interviews]" (Deathsplanation). Alison Atkin interviews Lauren McIntyre, a PhD candidate in osteoarchaeology at Sheffield. She's working on studying the skeletons of Roman York.