Recently Dr Claire Mellett of British Geological Survey in Edinburgh hosted a project meeting for “Understanding submerged palaeo-environments in the southern North Sea: Pathways and timescales of hominin colonisation”. The project is funded by English Heritage through the National Heritage Protection Plan, and is a collaboration between Wessex Archaeology and the BGS. The meeting focused on the recent nearshore survey conducted by BGS off the coast of Howick, Northumberland. Bathymetric data and chirp sub-bottom data were acquired and evidence of bedrock channels tracing existing river channels offshore and potential relict coastlines can be seen in the data.
This new data combined with a resource assessment of existing onshore and offshore geological, geophysical, geotechnical and archaeological datasets aims to provide key baseline assessments of palaeolandscape potential between the Humber and Northumberland. The results of this project will facilitate further research, archaeological prospection and cultural heritage management.
The datasets produced will also be publically-available and contribute to the development of merged onshore and offshore bedrock geology mapping. Keep an eye on the blog for further news!
Historic sources claim that gladiators had their own diet, one that comprised of beans and grains. Contemporary reports referred to gladiators as “hordearii” “barley eaters”).
In a study conducted by the Department of Forensic Medicine at the MedUni Vienna in cooperation with the Department of Anthropology at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bern, bones were examined from a gladiator cemetery uncovered in 1993 which dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC in the Roman city of Ephesos (now modern-day Turkey). At the time, Ephesos was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and boasted over 200,000 inhabitants.
Using spectroscopy, stable isotope ratios (carbon, nitrogen and sulphur) were investigated in the collagen of the bones, along with the ratio of strontium to calcium in the bone material.
The results show that the gladiators ate mostly a vegetarian diet. This is almost no different in terms of nutrition from the local “normal population”. Meals were made up of primarily of grain. The word “barley eater” relates in this case to the fact that gladiators were possibly given grain of a lower quality.Build-up drink following physical exertion
The difference between gladiators and the general population is highly significant in regards to the amount of strontium measured in their bones. This leads to the conclusion that the gladiators had a higher intake of minerals from a strontium-rich source of calcium. The ash drink quoted in literature most probably existed. “Plant ashes were evidently consumed to fortify the body after physical exertion and to promote better bone healing,” explains study leader Fabian Kanz from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the MedUni Vienna. “Things were similar then to what we do today- we take magnesium and calcium (in the form of effervescent tablets, for example) following physical exertion.” Calcium is crucial for bone building and usually occurs in milk products.
A further research project is looking at the migration of gladiators, who often came from different locations within the Roman Empire to Ephesos. The researchers are hoping that comparison of the bone data from gladiators with that of the local fauna will yield a number of differences.
Contributing Source: Medical University of Vienna
Header Image Source: WikiPedia
Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease that causes inflammation in the spinal joints and was believed to have affected several members of the ancient Egyptian royal families. However, a novel study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), contests that claim, finding instead a degenerate spinal condition called diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) in royal Egyptian mummies from the 18th to the early 20th Dynasties.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a member of a group of inflammatory conditions known as the spondyloarthropathies that cause arthritis and affect up to 2.4 million Americans over the age of 15 according to the ACR. The most common in this rheumatic disease family is ankylosing spondylitis, a disease that causes pains and stiffness in the back that may lead to a bony fusion of the spine. Studies estimate that ankylosing spondylitis affects approximately one percent of the population, in particular, young men.
In DISH the hardening of ligaments along the vertebrae of the spine produces stiffness in the upper back and can affect other joints in the body. Whilst DISH can often appear to be similar to ankylosing spondylitis, it is a degenerative condition and not an inflammatory type of arthritis, affecting those of 60 years of age and older.
Previous research using x-ray images stated that three Pharaohs (Amenhotep II, Ramesses II, and his sone Merenptah) showed evidence of ankylosing spondylitis. The new study used computer tomography (CT), a more sophisticated imaging technology, in order to study thirteen royal Egyptian mummies from 1492-1153 BC to determine if signs of ankylosing spondylitis or DISH were present.
A diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis was ruled out because there was an absence of joint erosion in the lower back and pelvis area (sacroiliac joints) or fusion sacroiliac joints or of small joints between the vertebra in the spine (facet joints) on the CT scans of the mummies. Signs of DISH were discovered in four Pharaohs (Amenhotep III-18th Dynasty; Ramesses II, his son Merenptah, and Ramesses III- 19th to the early 20th Dynasties).
The study was conducted by Dr. Sahar Saleem with the Kasr Al Ainy Faculty of Medicine in Cairo, Egypt and Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egyptologist and former head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. The authors say, “The mummies of Ancient Egypt offer a wealth of information regarding the history of disease. In studying these ancient remains we may be able to uncover the pathway of diseases- like ankylosing spondylitis or DISH- and how they might impact modern populations.” Dr. Sahar Saleem adds, “The process of mummification could induce spinal changes, which could be considered when investigating diseases in ancient remains.”
Contributing Source: Wiley
Header Image Source: Wikimedia
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