May 6, 2015

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXXI

I'm a bit slow with posting here at PbO because of end-of-the-semester grading, a new blog at Forbes, and a massive head cold.  But there were numerous Roman-era skeletal remains found in April (with, oddly, very few photos of the same), so let's get to it:

Roman Empire

Roman-era horse burial
(photo: Cambridge News)
  • 30 March - Intact horse's skeleton found at Roman site (  The horse skeleton, found during construction at Cambridge, is complete, and reveals a broken leg that had started to heal at the time of the horse's death.  Archaeologists are currently assuming it's Roman-era in date because of its proximity to a Roman settlement found over a decade ago.
  • 11 April - Nuova scoperta archeologia a Olbia ( A 2nd century BC tomb was found in the northeastern Sardinian city of Olbia when a pothole opened up. There's a video at the link (in Italian, of course) but it's really boring.  The archaeologist simply talks about body positioning in death, as far as I can tell.
  • 17 April - Man with metal detector finds Roman-era grave (Discovery News). Based on the abundance of grave goods, this was an elite burial dating to around 200 AD. It seems neither the metal detectorist nor the archaeologist knew they were coming upon a burial until they found the cremation urn. 
  • 26 April - Cremated human bones in pot found in Crossrail dig suggest gruesome ritual (Guardian). The Crossrail dig has found a ton of skeletons, both human and animal, and original interpretations involved the washing out of a Roman cemetery upriver.  This new find of a cooking pot filled with human remains, though, suggests a reinterpretation of the skulls and the pot as something more sinister. Is it Boudicca's army?  Could be.... can't wait to hear more about this fascinating find as bioarchaeologists continue to study the remains.

Italy and Rome
  • 15 April - Julius Caesar may have suffered mini strokes, study finds ( It's long been hypothesized that Caesar suffered from epilepsy, but doctors at Imperial College London recently reexamined the historical literature and think that his symptoms fit better with a series of mini strokes caused by cardiovascular disease. (If only we had the bodies of elite/famous ancient Romans, we could do a bunch of very cool bioarchaeological analyses!)
Excavation of a cemetery at Lovere
(photo: Bergamo Sera)
  • 22 April - Lovere: 97 tombe nella necropoli romana (BergamoSera). Although the Roman graves in Lovere (a town in northern, Alpine Italy) have been known for centuries, they were only recently excavated. A total of 60 burials and 37 cremations were found, although archaeologists suspect that there are more than 100 burials left to uncover. Almost all of the graves have artifacts, which is interesting and likely means they are not lower-class burials.  Excavation is expected to be completed at the end of May.
Publications and Exhibitions
  • Necropolis Santa Rosa (Rome, Vatican City) - The French Academy at Rome has started putting out open access publications on necropoleis from Italy.  This one covers urns from a small mausoleum in Vatican City and was written by Henri Duday. (In French, of course.)
  • The Roman Necropolis at Porta Nocera at Pompeii - And this one deals with a small funerary area at the Porta Nocera necropolis, written by William van Andriga and colleagues. It's nice to see some open access publications on these cemeteries.
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