Bioarchaeologists have figured out the diet of people from the burial in the restroom of the Roman thermae

(ORDO NEWS) — Bioarchaeologists examined the remains of nine adults from Scotland, who were buried in the lavatory at the Roman baths in the 6th-7th centuries AD. An analysis of stable isotopes showed that all these people ate mainly terrestrial food and almost did not eat marine fish.

In addition, most of them turned out to be of local origin, with the exception of a young man and an elderly woman who may have arrived in the vicinity of modern Edinburgh from other parts of Britain. This is reported in an article published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

On the western outskirts of the Scottish Edinburgh is the small island of Cramond, on which, around 140 AD, during the construction of the Antonine Wall, the Romans founded their fort. However, it was subsequently abandoned around 170 when the Romans retreated south to Hadrian’s Wall.

At the beginning of the III century, they returned to these lands during the campaign of Septimius Severus in Caledonia, after which they restored and expanded the fort. Subsequently, the Roman structures continued to be used by the local population for several centuries.

Systematic archaeological research of this monument began in the 1950s, when scientists managed to find the remains of barracks and granaries. Subsequently, they found the ruins of one of the best preserved Roman baths in Scotland, which was excavated in 1976 during the construction of a car park.

While exploring a latrine attached to a frigidarium (cooling room), archaeologists discovered the remains of 14 people, five of whom were children. Initially, they suggested that this collective burial dates back to the 14th century AD.

Bioarchaeologists have figured out the diet of people from the burial in the restroom of the Roman thermae 2

Kate Britton (Kate Britton) from the University of Aberdeen, together with colleagues from the UK decided to study the remains of these people.

Radiocarbon analysis showed that these individuals lived much earlier than it was thought – around the 6th-7th centuries of our era. Moreover, the nature of the burial indicates that they were buried for a short period of time.

The researchers took adult samples for analysis of stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, as well as strontium and oxygen, to determine their diet and mobility.

An anthropological analysis of the skulls of these individuals showed that five of them were women and four were men, whose age at the time of death varied from 18–25 to over 45 years. In addition, on the skulls of four people, scientists noticed evidence of traumatic injuries.

The results of the study of strontium and oxygen isotopes demonstrated that the majority of individuals were of local origin. However, analysis of the remains of one elderly woman showed that she spent at least part of her childhood in another region of the UK.

Scientists have suggested that she could have been born, for example, on one of the Inner Hebrides, where the Irish, Scots or Picts could live at that time. Perhaps another young man did not grow up on Kramond, but at least 30 kilometers from him.

But the last years of their lives, according to scientists, both of these people spent in the immediate vicinity of the burial place.

A study of the diet of these people showed that it consisted mainly of terrestrial protein food, and scientists did not reveal any sex differences in the diet using isotopic analyzes.

Bioarchaeologists have noted that low consumption of marine fish during the early Middle Ages was observed in many inland and coastal areas throughout England, Wales and Scotland. This is consistent with paleozoological evidence that indicates that this food source became prominent from around the 10th century AD.


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