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

Demography and Health in Roman York


Archaeology, The University of Sheffield

Thursday All day, Park Concourse Add to calendar

This study presents new demographic and health status information from a comprehensive study of the Roman inhabitants of York, England. The establishment in the first century AD of a Roman legionary fortress at Eboracum (present-day York) was followed by the development of a both a canabae and a colonia. Many of the cemeteries that served Roman York have been archaeologically excavated, and the aggregated assemblage constitutes a large skeletal sample. Prior to this study it was hypothesised that the combined military and civilian population would have numbered approximately 8000 individuals, with a substantial male bias, an average life expectancy at birth of approximately 30 years, and with health status similar to other Romano-British urban sites such as Gloucester and Colchester. Osteological data were collected for 594 individuals from previous publications. New osteological analyses were conducted on a further 191 skeletons, giving a total sample of 785 individuals. Sex ratios were calculated and mortality profiles constructed using raw osteological data. The combined military/civilian population size was estimated using settlement size and burial density. True and crude pathological prevalence rates were compared to those from eleven urban Romano British sites. The results of this study show significant male sex bias and average adult age at death of 36-37 years. Combined military/civilian living population size was estimated at 10,000-14,500 individuals. Compared to other urban Romano-British sites, York had significantly elevated prevalence of craniofacial trauma, os acromiale, brucellosis and porotic hyperostosis.

This doctoral study was fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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