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Ancient Cemetery Holds Clues To Human Migration In Imperial Rome

First Posted: Feb 10, 2016 04:04 PM EST

The isotope analysis of several 2,000-year-old skeletons is shedding new light on human migration in Imperial Rome. In the latest study, researchers found that the Roman Empire had migrants from the Alps and North Africa.

The researchers examined about 108 skeletons, which were buried in two ancient Roman cemeteries during the first to third centuries AD. The analysis of these skeletons would enable the team to have a better understanding of human migration in ancient Rome. The team analyzed the strontium, oxygen and carbon isotope ratios in the skeletons' teeth, which enabled them to determine their geographical origin and diet.

The researchers found that eight of the individuals were migrants from outside of Rome. These individuals were most likely from the Alps and North Africa. The researchers also noted that the individuals were mostly men and children and their burial site, a necropolis, suggests that they were poor or they might have been slaves.

In addition, the team found that these individuals' diet changed when they migrated to Rome, where their meals most likely comprised of legumes, wheat, fish and meat.

The researchers claimed that they need further isotope and DNA analysis in order to provide additional context for their discoveries.  

The findings of this study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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