Romans may have dumped remains of dead kids with their rubbish
London | January 09, 2013 12:01:13 AM IST
Baby bones found scattered on the ground of a seventh century workshop suggest 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, the Daily Mail reported.
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.
Skull fragments that from a baby and were found among the remains of animals and other detritus.
The bones could be from up to four infants who are thought to have died shortly before or after they were born.
A US archaeologist suggests that the findings show that the death of infants in parts of Roman society may have been treated with rather less ceremony and respect than was accorded adults.
Bone fragments from babies were found over several years during excavations at the settlement of Poggio Civitate, about 15 miles from the modern city of Siena in Italy.
Anthony Tuck, an archaeologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told the Archaeological Institute of America that it was likely the babies were discarded without any ritual.
While the Poggio Civitate settlement dates back almost 2,800 years, the bones were found in a section that was occupied during the seventh century AD when there was a lavish home and an open-air 170-feet long pavilion that was used as a workshop.
Two of the baby bones were located in the workshop area where bronze was cast and terracotta tiles, ceramics and other materials were manufactured.
He said the finds could indicated the parents, perhaps slaves or servants, who worked in the workshop were considered too lowly for their tragedy to be taken any notice by the wider community.
The arm bone found brushed up against a wall could similarly have been from a low-grade family.
Dr Tuck said that if the child belonged to the wealthy family who lived in the villa it would further emphasise the lack of impact a young child's death might have had among the Romans.
Death in infancy would have been common in the seventh century and few signs of infant burial have been detected in central Italy at this time, suggesting they were disposed of with little ceremony.
Those burials of infants that have been found are usually accompanied by ornaments and jewellery indicative of coming from a wealthy family. (ANI)
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