It was yet again a slow month in Roman bioarch news, so here's the month of December to kick off your new year...
- 3 December -- Shackled individuals found in Gallo-Roman cemetery in southwest France (Past Horizons). Well, this is a super interesting find. Among several hundred graves found in a
(via Past Horizons)
- 4 December -- Dirt provides new insight into Roman burials (Phys.org). This press release of a Journal of Archaeological Sciences article covers the first scientific evidence of frankincense used in Roman burial rites in Britain (3rd-4th century AD). Here's the JAS article by Brettell and colleagues.
- 5 December -- Anatolia's bone collection sheds light on history (Hurriyet Daily News). This is a short piece on the very large collection of skeletons held by the Hacettepe University Anthropology Laboratory, where over 10,000 remains date from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages. Most notable is that the lab has a huge number of Neolithic remains, as this was an important time period for the origins of agriculture in the region and the possible origin of Proto-Indo-Europeans.
- 16 December -- Million-mummy cemetery unearthed in Egypt (LiveScience) and Million mummy discovery disputed in Egypt (Huffington Post). A group of researchers at Brigham
One of the supposedly million
mummies at Fag el-Gamous
- 20 December -- A monkey in the Late Roman Army (Strange History). Not a new find per se, but renewed interest in the purposeful burial of a barbary macaque (a monkey even though it's often misnamed the "barbary ape") at Iulia Libica in the Pyrenees. The young male was likely brought or traded far north of his usual habitat, and his diet was not particularly good. There is a publication on this, although not easily obtainable for free (reference here).
- 27 December -- Researchers try to answer mystery of saintly skull (Past Horizons). The relic skull from medieval Denmark was supposed to be that of St. Lucius, who died around 254 AD. Researchers recently did C14 testing to reveal that it actually dates to about a century or two later. Further, strontium isotopes suggest that the individual may have lived near Rome, where medieval envoys tasked with finding an appropriate relic for St. Lucius may have chosen this one (which itself may have been from any of the massive catacombs snaking underneath the city). An interesting story of modern scientific detective work.
|St. Lucius? Nope. (via PastHorizons)|
Around the Web
- The History Blog has a piece on ancient footprints under the mosaic at Lod that reveal the size and shape of Romans' feet. This is from 2009 but was just brought to my attention via Twitter, in reference to one of my favorite pieces to write this year, "How long was the average Roman foot, and what was their shoe size?" Between footprints and footwear preserved at sites like Vindolanda, there is a lot of potential for understanding Roman feet and Roman walking from archaeological and bioarchaeological approaches.
- Last but not least, a new tumblr from bioarchaeologist Alison Atkin (also author of the Deathsplanation blog) -- Scientists Who Can't Table. Goes nicely with my Who Needs an Osteologist?, if you want to waste time but also learn something about bones!
|"What do you mean? This is always how I study skeletons..."|
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