January 8, 2013

Fairly common, I think

Filed under: Rome — acagle @ 3:48 pm

Did Romans dump the remains of their dead children with their rubbish? Grisly discoveries reveal unsympathetic attitudes

Baby bones found scattered on the ground at a seventh century workshop have hinted at an unexpected callousness towards child deaths among Romans.

Two bones and skull fragment were found lying on the floor among the remains of pigs, goats and sheep.

Another bone, that of a baby’s arm, was simply swept up against a wall along with all the other debris being brushed away from the ground around a villa.

The fact that only fragments have been found make me wonder if they got there more due to taphonomic reasons than actual burial practices. Certainly a lot of infant burials weren’t all that ceremonial — at Kom el-Hisn many of the infant and child bruials were just placed against walls and covered with trash debris — and I suspect that infant mortality was fairly high which could well cause the value placed on children to be fairly low until they reached a certain age. We don’t know anything about the infants though, so it’s all really speculation.

2 Comments

  1. Yeeeeeah. I hadn’t seen the Daily Fail story (it’s predictably awesome), but the LiveScience piece wasn’t much better. Then again, the whole interpretation of three bone fragments is wonky. For more of my yammering about this story, see here.

    Comment by Kristina Killgrove — January 8, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

  2. And there you go.

    Comment by acagle — January 9, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

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