Thursday, January 21, 2016

Origins of York's decapitated Romans traced by genome technology

Scientists reveal that headless men believed to be gladiators have descendants in Wales – and one hailed from Middle East

 The Roman skeletons were found at Driffield Terrace in York with their skulls placed between their legs, at their feet or on their chests. 
Photograph: York Archaeological Trust

The origins of a group of men whose decapitated corpses were discovered in aRoman cemetery in York have been traced through genome technology. It has been revealed that one man came from as far away as modern Syria or Palestine, and that the descendants of others now live in Wales.
The 1,800-year-old skeletons of more than 80 individuals, all aged under 45 when they died, have been puzzling archaeologists since they were excavated more than a decade ago by the York Archaeological Trust. The men – many of whom were taller than average and well built – may have been gladiators, soldiers or criminals whose violent deaths were arena entertainment.
The graveyard was discovered beneath gardens at Driffield Terrace, on land that would have been on the edge of the Roman city. The site is believed to be aspecial burial place for people who fought as gladiators or died in the arena.
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