The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Stable isotope analysis of human bones from Roman Ephesus (Turkey, 2nd and 3rd ct. AD)

SANDRA LÖSCH1, NEGAHNAZ MOGHADDAM1, KARL GROSSSCHMIDT2, DANIELE U. RISSER3 and FABIAN KANZ3.

1Department of Physical Anthropology, Institute of Forensic Medicine, Bern University, Switzerland, 2Center of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria, 3Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

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Skeletal remains of 37 individuals from several graveyards in Ephesus, Roman capital of the province Asia, were investigated. Basic osteology and stable isotope analysis provide new information about the 2nd and 3rd century AD living conditions of this ancient megacity's citizens.

Bone collagen was extracted and stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur were measured with mass spectrometry. So far, 29 males, five males and three sub adults (< 12 y) were investigated. All 34 adults belong to the age classes adult and mature. The mean female body height was 162cm± 4cm, the mean male body height was 169cm± 5cm. This is within the range of known values for ancient Roman populations.

The male individuals (n=29) show δ13C-data of -18.93‰± 0.3, δ15N-values of 9.43‰± 0.8 and δ34S-values of 7.71‰± 1.5. The female individuals (n=5) show δ13C-data of -18.89‰± 0.5, δ15N-values of 9.12‰± 1.0 and δ34S-values of 6.94‰± 2.7. The sub adults (n=3) show δ13C-values of -19.10‰± 0.2, δ15N-values of 9.12‰± 0.4 and δ34S-values of 7.11‰± 1.3.

All individuals consumed C3 plants as basic subsistence with a light intake of C4 plants. Seafood and animal proteins was also a small part of the nutrition.

The quite heterogeneous values for the females with signs for migration are less surprising than the homogeneous data of the males, as this was be expected regarding an ancient “melting pot” like Ephesus. Further studies will concentrate on social strata and different occupational groups.

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