Jawbone found in Roman catacombs came from beyond the empire
– It is not known whether a jawbone found in a Roman catacomb belonged to a free man or a slave, but tests revealed that the individual has come a very long way. Scientists say bone, tooth and DNA tests show the jawbone in the mass grave in the catacombs of Saints Peter and Marcellinus belonged to a person from what is now Sudan. When the person was born around 1,700 years ago, the area was just south of the borders of the Roman Empire. In a study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the researchers say the person moved to the area early in life, possibly as a nomad, before making the 1,500 km journey to Rome. Researchers say this is the first archaeological evidence of an African person born beyond the borders of the Empire migrating to ancient Rome.
The researchers also claim that this find speaks to the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of Rome at the time and is one of the few known cases of long-distance migration through the empire by a non-Roman. They think the person was probably forced into migration as a slave, but there are other possibilities. “While I agree that this person was certainly an immigrant, a person’s status as a free migrant or Roman slave is still only a guess at this point,” explains Kristina Killgrove of the University of Carolina North. New scientist. “The military recruited young men from the provinces during this period,” and the study data “could also be consistent with a new provincial recruit ending up in Rome,” she said.
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