Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival XVII

It's been surprisingly quiet in Roman bioarchaeology land of late.  But here's what I have for you this month(ish), much of it Medieval in date...

New Finds/Analyses
  • 6 April - Two cemeteries have been discovered in Poiters, France.  One was Medieval and dates roughly to the 5th-10th centuries AD.  The other was Roman-era, but the only grave discovered was of a monkey.  (No pictures of the simian grave, unfortunately...) 
  • 30 April - Another skeleton was discovered in Caistor (UK), dating to the early Medieval period (roughly 7th century AD).  There seems to be a fair amount of Roman stuff at the site, though, including a possible curse tablet.
  • 4 May - A skeleton dating to the Medieval period was found in the Piazza Mercurio in Massa-Carrara (Tuscany).  The individual was female, but she is missing a head (from the images, it seems like a later cut through the grave disturbed it).  There's also a Q&A with bioarchaeologist Barbara Lippi, who answers questions about the find and about other applications of osteology. 
  • 15 May - A brief reassessment of "Altamura Man," who dates to roughly 400,000-250,000 BC.  The skeleton hasn't been studied in well over a decade, so researchers in Bari are trying to get the project started back up again.  (More on Altamura Man, likely a member of Homo heidelbergensis, via wikipedia.)
  • 16 May - And the big news this month was the discovery of a Christian-era (4th century AD) catacombs in Rome, near Tiburtina, less than 50cm below the ground surface.  It includes 12 galleries and was in use until about 800 AD.  There was a very high number of infant burials in the catacombs, but oddly, the director of the excavation is quoted as saying that bioarchaeological analysis verified that they were mostly male children.  Unless I've missed the article somewhere, I don't know of a large-scale DNA study that has demonstrated the sex of these infant burials.
  • 24 May - Some new Etruscan tombs have been found in Grosseto, dating to the end of the 7th century BC.  It doesn't sound like there are any skeletal remains, but there are some artifacts.
  • 25 May - A skeleton has been found in Naples in the Piazza Municipio.  The skeleton doesn't seem to have been in a cemetery, and there are no grave goods.  It dates to the 7th to 8th centuries AD.  (Additional photos via  And it may be Arab or Muslim?
  • 30 May - And some skeletons have been found in Piacenza.  No report yet on the date, though.
Medieval skeleton from Naples (credit)
Sylvia Plaaaaaaaath! (credit)
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