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

Buck, Trudi; Greene, Elizabeth M.; Meyer, Alexander; Barlow, Victoria; Graham, Eleanor

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


Authors

Elizabeth M. Greene

Alexander Meyer

Victoria Barlow

Eleanor Graham



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.

Citation

Buck, T., Greene, E. M., Meyer, A., Barlow, V., & Graham, E. (2019). The Body in the Ditch: Alternative Funerary Practices on the Northern Frontier of the Roman Empire?. Britannia: A Journal of Romano-British and Kindred Studies, 50, 203-224. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0068113x1900014x

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date May 6, 2019
Publication Date Nov 30, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 5, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 14, 2019
Journal Britannia
Print ISSN 0068-113X
Electronic ISSN 1753-5352
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Pages 203-224
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/s0068113x1900014x
Related Public URLs http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/39380/

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