Funerary reuse of a Roman amphitheatre: Palaeodietary and osteological study of Early Middle Ages burials (8th and 9th centuries AD) discovered in the Arena of Verona (Northeastern Italy)

Laffranchi, Zita; Mazzucchi, Alessandra; Thompson, Simon; Delgado‐Huertas, Antonio; Granados‐Torres, Arsenio; Milella, Marco (2020). Funerary reuse of a Roman amphitheatre: Palaeodietary and osteological study of Early Middle Ages burials (8th and 9th centuries AD) discovered in the Arena of Verona (Northeastern Italy). International journal of osteoarchaeology John Wiley & Sons 10.1002/oa.2872

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The economic and political disruption following the collapse of the Roman Empire is an important moment for the cultural and biological history of Western Europe. One of the trends associated this socioeconomic change is the reuse of Roman public monuments for different purposes including funerary ones. The cultural meaning of this practice, occasionally described throughout Europe, is however still unclear. Here, we present a study of a group of burials (N = 10) recently discovered in the Roman amphitheatre (Arena) of Verona (Northeastern Italy) and dating to Early Middle Ages (8th and 9th century AD). Specifically, we address the following research questions: (1) What depositional events are responsible for the observed stratigraphic sequence? 2) Which demographic composition and health condition characterize this sample? (3) What kind of diet characterized these individuals? In order to address these questions, we performed an osteological and isotopic (δ13C and δ15N) study of the skeletal evidence for the assessment of palaeopathological and dietary patterns and a histological analysis for the refinement of age at death and the calculation of the minimum number of individuals (MNI). A 14C study was also performed in order to better define the depositional sequence of these individuals. The results, besides being among the first palaeodietary data for Early Middle Ages in this region, highlight: (a) the funerary use of this location for at least one century; (b) an MNI of 10 individuals of both sexes and different age classes, featuring relatively high frequencies of unspecific stress markers (porotic hyperostosis and linear enamel hypoplasia) and trauma, and (c) a diet characterized by a consistent contribution of C4 plants and a good access to animal proteins. These results suggest a long‐spanning practice and the absence of any selectivity in the choice of these individuals. Finally, isotopic data align with previous studies on Bronze and Iron Age samples confirming a long tradition of alimentary exploitation of C4 plants in this area.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Milella, Marco

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
900 History > 940 History of Europe

ISSN:

1099-1212

Publisher:

John Wiley & Sons

Language:

English

Submitter:

Marco Milella

Date Deposited:

20 May 2020 16:20

Last Modified:

20 May 2020 16:21

Publisher DOI:

10.1002/oa.2872

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/144059

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