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Migration and mobility in Roman Beirut: The isotopic evidence

Kalenderian, Vana; Snoeck, Christophe; Palstra, Sanne W.L.; Nowell, Geoff M.; Seif, Assaad

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Vana Kalenderian

Christophe Snoeck

Sanne W.L. Palstra

Assaad Seif


Rescue excavations in Beirut, Lebanon, have uncovered large burial assemblages dating to the Roman period. As the first Roman colony in the Near East, the human skeletons from Beirut provide a unique opportunity to explore migration to the city using biomolecular analyses. This study applies strontium and oxygen isotope analysis to nineteen human skeletons and establishes primary local reference values through the analysis of human and faunal dentition and the utilisation of already available environmental and botanical data from Lebanon. Two possible incomers and two definite migrants – both male and female – were identified who originated from different parts of the Empire. The comparison of isotopic data with the material culture of the graves illustrates how migrant identity is not always expressed in burial, and also how archaeological data can supplement biomolecular results in identifying the type of migration involved in a colonial setting. The results from this study contribute to our understanding of the Roman colonization of Beirut, highlight female mobility during the Roman period, and establish local human isotope ratios which can be used in future research on migration to the city and in the region.


Kalenderian, V., Snoeck, C., Palstra, S. W., Nowell, G. M., & Seif, A. (2023). Migration and mobility in Roman Beirut: The isotopic evidence. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 49, Article 104044.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 14, 2023
Online Publication Date May 24, 2023
Publication Date 2023-06
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 25, 2023
Journal Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Print ISSN 2352-409X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Article Number 104044
Keywords Archeology; Archeology
Public URL


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