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A multi-isotope (C, N, O, Sr, Pb) study of Iron Age and Roman period skeletons from east Edinburgh, Scotland exploring the relationship between decapitation burials and geographical origins

Moore, J; Rose, A; Anderson, S; Evans, J; Nowell, G; Grocke, D; Pashley, V; Kirby, M; Montgomery, J

A multi-isotope (C, N, O, Sr, Pb) study of Iron Age and Roman period skeletons from east Edinburgh, Scotland exploring the relationship between decapitation burials and geographical origins Thumbnail


Authors

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Joanna Moore j.f.moore@durham.ac.uk
Isotope Research Technician

A Rose

S Anderson

J Evans

V Pashley

M Kirby



Abstract

Recent excavations at Musselburgh, East Lothian (Scotland) revealed twelve skeletons, radiocarbon dated to the Iron Age and Roman period. The high incidence of skeletal trauma characteristic of decapitation in those of Roman date makes this site unusual. A multi-isotope investigation of seven of these individuals was conducted to explore any link between intrusive burial practices and migration at one of Britain’s most northerly frontiers. Bulk collagen analysis provided a terrestrial, C3, dietary protein signal (mean δ13C −20.4‰ and δ15N + 11.1‰), consistent with other Romano-British studies. However, the range of δ18O, 87Sr/86Sr and Pb isotopes indicate more diverse origins for the Roman individuals. These results suggest that decapitation burials were afforded to migrants to the Lothian area, but is not indicative of a common origin, implying that something more complex than a shared geographic childhood origin united these individuals. The possible association of these decapitation burials with a nearby 2nd century fort suggests that they may also represent some of the earliest examples of Roman decapitation burials to be found anywhere in Britain.

Citation

Moore, J., Rose, A., Anderson, S., Evans, J., Nowell, G., Grocke, D., …Montgomery, J. (2020). A multi-isotope (C, N, O, Sr, Pb) study of Iron Age and Roman period skeletons from east Edinburgh, Scotland exploring the relationship between decapitation burials and geographical origins. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 29, Article 102075. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102075

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 24, 2019
Publication Date Feb 28, 2020
Deposit Date Nov 18, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 2, 2020
Journal Journal of archaeological science, reports.
Print ISSN 2352-409X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Article Number 102075
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102075
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1283418

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