Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival XXXII

Some Roman(ish) bioarch news for the month of August...

Finds and Features
Wealthy Sarmatian burial (via RiaNovosti)
"Mass grave" at Pisidia Antiocheia (via Hurriyet)
Skeleton and mask found at Aizanoi (via Hurriyet)
  • 6 August.  Archaeologists find treasures at ancient Russian burial cite [sic]. []  Originally, this find, likely associated with the Sarmatians (roughly 500 BC to 400 AD) in southern Russia, was heralded as the tomb of a noble woman on account of the jewelry, mirror, and other decorations covering the body.  Later in the month (20 August), however, it was reported that Russian "Amazon" buried with cosmetics could be man [RiaNovosti].  Seems that the original sex determination was made on the artifacts alone and that after an osteologist had a look at them, they were much more male in morphology.  I suspect that the archaeologists will want a DNA analysis to confirm because *gasp* a man buried with "woman" things?  We may have another gay caveman on our hands... 
  • 8 August. Crossrail tunnel project uncovers ancient burial ground - including Bedlam patients. [Independent]  It sounds like the majority of the 4,000 skeletons they expect to find as excavation continues in London are from only about 150 years ago, but there have also been plenty of Roman-era coins, roads, and other stuff found.  Should be a neat project to follow up on.
  • 16 August. Mass grave found in the ancient city of Pisidia Antiocheia. [Hurriyet Daily News]  A well in a Roman villa containing the remains of at least 6 humans and one pig was discovered at Pisidia Antiocheia in Turkey.  Seems another set of bodies was found in a well a month or so ago, just nearby.  No osteological report, unfortunately, as I'd like to know if these are adults or kids.  If these are neonatal bodies, their disposal or burial in a well is not terribly surprising.  If these are just adult heads, well, that's a bit more puzzling. Either way, not sure the "mass grave" terminology applies.  Hopefully there will be more info out soon.
  • 20 August. Rome's start to architectural hubris. [New York Times] Great piece on Gabii, the site at which I've been working since 2010.  It mostly covers the architecture, which is telling us new and cool things about, in particular, monumentality prior to the Empire, but there are also a few dozen bodies at the site from a number of time periods.
  • 20 August. Archaeologists discover hidden slave tunnel beneath Hadrian's villa. [Telegraph] Over two miles of tunnels were recently discovered underneath emperor Hadrian's sprawling villa at Tivoli, just outside of Rome. Archaeologists are suggesting these underground passageways were for slaves moving from one part of the villa to another. Pretty neat!  (And would you believe that I've still never been to Tivoli?  I tried -- twice -- and was thwarted both times by public transport and/or Italians' penchant for closing sites randomly.)
  • 20 August. 2,000-year-old skeleton mask discovered in Turkey. [Hurriyet] Not much news on this.  Just a skeleton with a mask.  Pretty cool, though -- see pic above.
  • 23 August. Ancient Libyan necropolis threatened by real estate speculators. [France 24] Technically Greek-era rather than Roman (600-400 BC), but some sad destruction to a massive necropolis at Cyrene that includes (included?) over 1,000 burials with sarcophagi.
Follow-Ups and Ongoing Sagas
Articles and Blog Posts

Finally, a neat video.  It dates from 2008, but I'd never seen it before.  This is "Opening a Roman Coffin at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, UK, by Wessex Archaeology." Enjoy! [Watch on YouTube]


Dorothy King said…
No-one connected to the Amphipolis excavation has ever suggested it is the Tomb of Alexander the Great. It was a rumour started by some local nationalists which got out of control. The more everyone denied it, the more they saw a conspiracy etc ...
Dorothy - A-yup. Hence my posting of the Rogue Classicist's round-up and the blog post with quotes from an actual archaeologist associated with the Amphipolis excavation. If there are more important or better links that I missed, feel free to leave them here in the comments!
Dorothy King said…
David quoted me as it's my best friend's dig. Covered tomb in my PhD etc, and what they are finding is amazing - the rest of the Lion, inscriptions, other good finds etc. It would be a pity if this fluff took away from that.
I'm glad finally to hear someone call the digging up the skeletons to find the 'Mona Lisa' by its proper name: 'historical voyeurism'. And also, I think, an appalling desecration of the dead buried in the convent to satisfy idle curiosity. It is not just the 'current consensus of art experts' (as NBC News/Science would have it) that Lisa Gherardini was the sitter for the Mona Lisa: Vasari recorded the fact in the 16th C.

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