Our bioarchaeological investigation into the 5th-7th Century Christians buried at Las Huertas in La Roda, Andalucía continues. According to researchers at the Museum of Archaeology in Seville, this site contains three types of burials, including cist tombs with limestone slabs, pit graves or ossuaries filled with rubble, and simple, uncovered shaft tombs (Guerrero Misa and Ventura Martinez, 1985). While it still remains unclear as to why the variety of burial types existed in the past, we are finding that the taphonomy, or the conditions which influence the preservation of each individual, fluctuates greatly throughout the site due to the different practices. Despite this, our study has uncovered many exciting non-metric traits and pathologies.
Preliminary analysis of Tomb 25, an uncovered shaft tomb, revealed the presence of three adults of an undetermined sex. The remains of the first adult excavated were very fragmented and denatured due to the taphonomic conditions of an open grave. Teeth associated with this skeleton showed wear that suggests that the individual was 25-35 years old at the time of death (Brothwell, 1981). Multiple teeth contained linear enamel hypoplasias, suggesting that this individual suffered from extreme stress or hunger during his or her youth. Comingled, and better preserved, remains of two adults from deeper in the grave revealed several non-metric traits, including two (one right and one left) truly perforated septal aperatures as well as two (one right and one left) accessory acromial articular facets.
Elizabeth Luttrell from Colorado College studying the collection of bones of the Roman necropolis of Seville (Spain)
Anthropologists have used non-metric traits for many years as a way of looking at human population variation, since they may be genetically or occupationally induced (Roberts, 2009; Saunders, 1989; Hauser and de Stefano, 1990). We intend to track the distribution of these traits within the population to see if any burial pattern arises.