The Body in the Ditch: Alternative Funerary Practices on the Northern Frontier of the Roman Empire?

Trudi Buck, Elizabeth Greene, Alexander Meyer, Victoria Barlow, Eleanor Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Disarticulated human remains were recovered from a first-century fort ditch at Vindolanda on the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. Ancient DNA analysis revealed the skeleton to be that of a male individual and forensic taphonomic analysis suggested a primary deposition of the body in a waterlogged environment with no obvious evidence of formal burial. Occurrences of disarticulated human remains outside a cemetery context are often overlooked in Roman bioarchaeology. This discovery adds to the growing body of literature regarding alternative funerary practice in the Empire, highlighting that the concept of burial and disposal of the dead is more complex than ancient historical sources suggest. Details of the DNA analysis are provided in the Supplementary Material available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0068113X1900014X.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-224
JournalBritannia
Volume50
Early online date6 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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