Monday, March 12, 2012

Using burial sites to gauge the effect of Roman conquest on Iron Age Britons

Britain was first invaded by the Romans during the reign of Caesar in 54-55 BCE, which began the gradual inevitable process of incorporation into the Empire. However, it wasn’t until 43 CE, with the conquest of what is now England under Claudius that social, political and economic changes were enforced in the native populations.

Archaeological investigations show a break in the continuity of Iron Age trends with Roman conquest, especially apparent in burial and mortuary patterns. One important facet of understanding what affect ‘Romanization’ had on the Britons is looking at changes in health patterns, at both a national and regional levels, comparing the effects on different classes and age groups of society. Two studies done by Redfern and DeWitte (2011a, 2011b) and Redfern, Millard and Hamlin (2012) assess the health in the Iron Age and Roman periods of Dorset, England in order to understand how changes connected with conquest affected health. Previous studies by Redfern et al. (2010) on these pre- and post-conquest communities in Dorset showed that there was; increased consumption of marine resources; increased prevalence of dental disease; infectious and metabolic diseases; decreased evidence for trauma; decline in subadult growth; and average male stature did not increase. These more recent studies look closer into demography and mortality, as well as class and age differences in health.

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