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

Buck, Trudi, Greene, Elizabeth, Meyer, Alexander, Barlow, Victoria and Graham, Eleanor (2019) The Body in the Ditch: Alternative Funerary Practices on the Northern Frontier of the Roman Empire? Britannia, 50. pp. 203-224. ISSN 0068-113X

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0068113X1900014X

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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Vindolanda; Stanegate; alternative funerary practice; forensic taphonomy; ancient DNA; Roman army
Subjects: F400 Forensic and Archaeological Science
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 22 May 2019 10:08
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2019 09:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39380

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