The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)

Rome wasn't built in a day: biomolecular analysis of ancient Romans


1Department of Biology, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy, 2Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, 3Anthropology Service, Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Roma, Rome, Italy, 4Department of Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

April 14, 2018 18, Zilker 1/2/3 Add to calendar

Recent archaeological excavations carried out in Rome have revealed hundreds of burials mainly dated back to the Imperial Age (1st-3rd centuries CE), when the city of Rome reached its greatest demographic expansion. The huge development of biomolecular techniques allows to recovery ancient molecules from biological remains, thus providing a powerful tool for reconstructing crucial aspects of the history of Rome as well as its ecological and genetic structure, to be properly understood in the frame of the huge historical and literary sources about its lifestyle and society. One of the main topic addressed by molecular assessment is the Romans’ dietary habits: isotopic data are consistent with a heterogeneous landscape where each community seems to be featured by private foodstuff preferences. Indeed though the average diet should be based on C3 terrestrial resources consumption, several specific nutritional requirements could be pointed out. Genetic evaluation is an outstanding task to deepen the knowledge about the population stratification: whole genomes are able to dissect the population genetic makeup and strontium/oxygen synergic evaluations shed light on the Rome migration pattern in Imperial Age: the quantitative assessment of migration flows have been compared to demographic projections in order to elucidate the mandatory people movements to ensure City welfare. Selective genetic markers have been evaluated to identify putative genetic disorders people suffered from: their molecular characterization have aided in the identification of the pathocenosis affecting ancient Romans and several susceptibility loci revealed specific variation in pathological individuals.

This project is sponsored by MIUR-PRIN 2015PJ7H3K.