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Poundbury Camp in context – a new perspective on the lives of children from urban and rural Roman England

Rohnbogner, A. and Lewis, M. ORCID: (2017) Poundbury Camp in context – a new perspective on the lives of children from urban and rural Roman England. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 162 (2). pp. 208-228. ISSN 1096-8644

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23106


Objectives The current understanding of child morbidity in Roman England is dominated by studies of single sites/regions. Much of the data are derived from third to fifth century AD Poundbury Camp, Dorchester, Dorset, considered an unusual site due to high levels of non-adult morbidity. There is little understanding of children in rural areas, and whether Poundbury Camp was representative of Romano-British childhood. Materials and methods The study provides the first large scale analysis of child health in urban and rural Roman England, adding to the previously published intra-site analysis of non-adult paleopathology at Poundbury Camp. Age-at-death and pathology prevalence rates were reassessed for 953 non-adults (0–17 years) from five major urban, six minor urban, and four rural sites (first to fifth century AD). The data were compared to the results from 364 non-adults from Poundbury Camp. Results Rural sites demonstrated higher levels of infant burials, and greater prevalence of cribra orbitalia in the 1.1–2.5 year (TPR 64.3%), and 6.6–10.5 year cohorts (TPR 66.7%). Endocranial lesions were more frequent in the minor urban sample (TPR 15.9%). Three new cases of tuberculosis were identified in urban contexts. Vitamin D deficiency was most prevalent at Poundbury Camp (CPR 18.8%), vitamin C deficiency was identified more frequently in rural settlements (CPR 5.9%). Discussion The Poundbury Camp data on morbidity and mortality are not representative of patterns in Roman England and other major urban sites. Rural children suffered from a distinct set of pathologies described as diseases of deprivation, prompting reconsideration of how Romano-British land management affected those at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:67760


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