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Roman skeleton’s burial position puzzles archaeologists

The discovery of a 4th century skeleton found at the Roman town of Venta Icenorum (present-day Caistor St. Edmund, just outside of Norwich, England), is puzzling archaeologists due to the position it was buried in.

“This one has been seemingly put sideways into a shallow pit and the ground surface would have barely covered it. It’s folded up and at first sight it seems to be a very strange-looking individual.

“The question is whether we are in a cemetery area of the town or if we are looking at something stranger. None of us who have worked on Roman cemeteries in the past have ever come across anything like this.

“It could be that they were executed as a criminal, murdered and shoved into a pit or it was someone who was deemed abnormal in some way so the body was not accorded the normal burial.”

One thought on “Roman skeleton’s burial position puzzles archaeologists

  1. I only have this photo to work on, but would make two suggestions from the visual:

    1) I can only see the right arm, but it appears that the arms were tied or somehow restrained behind the back. The position of the left arm in situ may confirm or refute this possibility.

    2) The strange position of the legs suggests that the person was kneeling and then toppled sideways into the grave after death – did he/she fall or was he/she pushed?

    Has gender been established, or cause of death?

    My immediate reaction is an execution (for whatever reason) and then disposal into an already dug shallow grave. I await more information with interest.


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