Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Burial in Britain

The embedded video shows the excavation of a 3rd Century AD sarcophagus in Britain.

Opening a Roman Coffin from Wessex Archaeology on Vimeo.

Apart from the fact that it's an excellent use of multi-media to bring the practicalities of archaeological field-work to the public, there is a close-up of a "small lustrous pot imported from France" at about 9:02 into the video. At this point I'll admit that Britain isn't the Mediterranean and the vessel in question is from northern Gaul so also a little outside my usual geographic range. But that's OK, it's all Roman so we're still more-or-less on topic.

The Wessex Archaeology site has a page with further information. This paragraph is interesting:
Everything points to the woman having been of high status. Almost 300 graves have been excavated at Boscombe Down in five separate cemeteries. Although many contained wooden coffins, this is the only one with a stone coffin. Dating to around 220 AD, the burial is the earliest in its cemetery and the later burials clustered around it. Many of the people in the other graves were buried with hobnailed shoes or boots for their journey to the next world and local copies of the imported pot are common finds.
I like the use of ceramics in the interpretation of social status.

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