BAJR Federation Archaeology

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This is the start of a larger artice y the most excellent Prof Killgrove.
The thrust of the investigation (at least her continuing investigation is the "Roman" skeletal remains from York Gloucester etc.

Looking at Diet...

Quote:Just a few days ago, only the second isotope study of millet consumption in the Roman Empire was published, by Pollard and colleagues in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. In a small Romano-British cemetery in Kent (late 3rd-early 4th century AD), a salvage archaeology project uncovered a dozen burials that were simple in nature: only coffin nails and hobnails from boots were found in most graves. Among these simple farmers, though, was an individual with a surprisingly high carbon isotope value, so Pollard and colleagues undertook a dietary (C/N) and migration (Sr/O) study of the individuals.


The anomalous partially complete skeleton was that of a male over the age of 45 buried wearing hobnail boots. The individual's nitrogen isotope ratio was a bit high (11.2 permil), indicating aquatic resource consumption, but was not higher than average for Roman Britain. His carbon isotope ratio from collagen, however, came in at -15.2 permil, in stark comparison to the average of the other individuals of -19.8 permil (see below). This difference may not seem dramatic until you factor in the standard deviation - variation within the d13C ratios of the others from the site was only 0.3! This person was therefore eating a whole bunch of C4 resources - millet, sorghum, or animals foddered on those grains.

continue reading here: http://www.poweredbyosteons.org/2011/10/...mpire.html

Worth also reading this.
Killgrove, K. (2010). Migration and mobility in Imperial Rome. PhD dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. [PDF]
Is there any evidence for people growing millet in Roman Britain? Can't recall ever seeing it mentioned in a palaeobotanical report from around here for any period, or maybe Northern England's too cold?
I am guessing by the title of the Pollard report that the individual in question was buried at Springhead .... this site lies close to the Roman road (latterly Watling Street) and is the site of a number of temple structures as well as a high status villa and possibly an emporium. I think there are a number of factors there which might suggest the burial was of a visitor to these shores. I'd be interested in clarifying how they arrived at the date attributed to this inhumation....
See the recent Oxford Unit Lankhills mongraph, similar sort of date range for 'foreigners' in southern England - if my pet isotope project ever gets off the ground it should (hopefully!) pad out the number of 'outsiders' in northern England in the 4th century. They're certainly out there (there are almost certainly loads lingering unidentified in museum stores too), the only hassle is getting the funding to find them
Worthwhile funding may I say... I should put you in touch with Prof Kilgrove
Dinosaur Wrote:See the recent Oxford Unit Lankhills mongraph, similar sort of date range for 'foreigners' in southern England - if my pet isotope project ever gets off the ground it should (hopefully!) pad out the number of 'outsiders' in northern England in the 4th century. They're certainly out there (there are almost certainly loads lingering unidentified in museum stores too), the only hassle is getting the funding to find them

Surely the "foreigners" shouldn't be a surprise, or am I missing something here? You only have to look at the Roman Legionary and Auxilliary units to see where the "outsiders" come from...but I wouldn't be surprised if I've missed the point...xx(
Very little data is available so far, since it's dead expensive to have done commercially, most of what there is has been done at the whim of the researchers so its all been very targetted with no 'background' baseline to work from - to be fair my pet project is about as targeted as it gets, want to kick holes in the main conclusion of the recent Lankhills monograph (and I suspect I'm not alone, but that's another story...)

There's a perception that by the late 3rd/4th centuries military units in the provinces, whatever the unit title, were recruiting from the local population. The recently published isotope study of skellies from Catterick/Bainesse was argued to support this notion, with mainly 4th century skellies from near the fort all of 'local' origins, but a more varied population of slightly earlier date at the road-side settlement at Bainesse acouple of km away. Unfortunately the study used Pete Wilson's monograph as a shopping list and ignored all the more recently excavated material much of which has rather better dating (some of the 'dates' for the material used can have holes picked in them, Wilson makes it quite clear in his book that some of the dating was 'best guess', and a C14 study of some of the Bainesse skellies produced surprisingly late dates, as has a more recent body from the same area - 5th/6th for a decap with hobnails (hopefully there will be a second date on that one)

Giles Clarke back in the 70s suggested that 'deviant' burials at Winchester Lankhills, primarily guys wearing crossbow brooches and belt-sets but also a number of other well-furnished burials, represented officers or civilian administrators brought in during the 4th century from other provinces. The recent isotope analysis showed that most of the 'rich' burials were probably locals, but all of the crossbow brooch guys tested came up foreign - although for some reason the monograph concluded that they were just part of the 'normal' cemetery population so the jury's still out on that one....but the untested group of crossbow brooches/belt sets at Catterick might clarify things since they had their own small private cemetery (suspicious in its own right) and aren't mixed up with the 'general' population that's already been done (and as noted above there are more 'general' ones that can be done to pad the statistical population) - theres another group of three crossbow-brooch burials at Norton, North Yorkshire as well
BAJR Wrote:Worthwhile funding may I say... I should put you in touch with Prof Kilgrove

Been raised a few times with various people but nothing has come of it - currently in discussion with Reading but that's all gone a bit quiet so might get back to you on that one, now's the time while it's topical :face-approve:
You could also try Janet Montgomery at Durham. She helped me with my oxygen and does strontium and lead as well. Reasonable prices too.
deadlylampshade Wrote:Surely the "foreigners" shouldn't be a surprise, or am I missing something here? You only have to look at the Roman Legionary and Auxilliary units to see where the "outsiders" come from...but I wouldn't be surprised if I've missed the point...xx(

It's not that foreigners in England or in Rome (or anywhere else in the Empire) are a surprise, it's that most people in the Empire acculturated and we have little archaeological evidence of people buried with the trappings of another culture. So isotope analysis is (at least for my work in Rome) the only way to find immigrants who weren't commemorated as such on tombstones. Once we find the bodies of immigrants, we can ask questions like: Were their lives worse than those of the locals? You'd think that they were, since the immigrants were more likely to be slaves, but the data on disease don't support a difference in health or lifestyle at this point. That's why I and others are looking for/at immigrants in the Empire - histories tell us they existed, but we know precious little about their lives.
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