Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Discovery of Roman necropolis for workers in ?salt mines

Archaeologists said on Monday they have discovered a vast Roman necropolis on a hill south of Rome where the lower social classes buried their dead.

Around 270 skeletons have been found in simple tombs at the Castel Malnone necropolis at Ponte Galeria along with ceramic tankards, oil lamps and what remains of ancient shoes.

Around 70 coins bearing the effigies of the Emperor Trajan (53-117) and Faustina the Elder (100-141), wife of Emperor Antoninus Pius, were found placed in the mouths of the dead as offerings for Underworld ferryman Charon.

Archaeologists and anthropologists working at the site discovered that some 70% of the skeletons belonged to adult men between the ages of 20 and 40, and that many had spinal fractures or other disabilities.

Although most of the tombs contained only basic artefacts, the graves of two young boys led to more interesting finds.

One boy held a necklace made from bones, shells and an amber pendant to protect him in the afterlife, while another was buried with two gold earrings and a large ceramic oil lamp decorated with a scene from a grape harvest.

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