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Excavation

  • Vagnari
  • Gravina in Puglia
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    Credits

    • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

      MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

      ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

      AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

    • AIAC_logo logo

    Summary (English)

    • Excavation of the Vagnari cemetery resumed in July 2011 under the direction of Tracy Prowse (McMaster University), with a team of archaeology students from Canada and Italy. Excavation of the cemetery commenced in 2002, with the majority of burials dating between the 1st to 3rd centuries AD, plus a small number from the 4th century AD. The goal of the 2011 field season was to complete excavation of Trench 59, initially opened in 2009, and to expose a new trench (69) immediately to the West of an area excavated in the 2007- 2008 field seasons, bringing the total area excavated to-date to approximately 400m2.

      A total of 19 tombs were uncovered during the 2011 field season; 6 in Trench 59 and 13 in Trench 69. Twelve tombs were fully excavated (6 in each trench), with 7 reburied for excavation in subsequent seasons. All of the burials were aligned in an East-West or an SE-NW direction. The majority of the tombs (n=10) were ‘a cappuccina’, with the deceased buried in a shallow pit and covered by a series of large tegulae in an inverted ‘V’ shape. Of the two remaining burials, one was a libation burial in which a child was interred with grave goods, covered with horizontally-laid tegulae, and an imbrex was inserted vertically in the soil above the burial for libations. The final burial excavated in 2011 was a poorly preserved skeleton found with no evidence of a tomb structure, a few ceramic fragments in association with the skeletal remains, and was likely a simple pit burial.

      All of the burials contained grave goods, typically deposited near the lower legs and feet of the deceased, with the exception of a small number of metallic objects and objects of personal adornment (e.g., bone pins, beads). Similar to previous years, grave goods consisted of plain ware pottery, lamps, iron nails (often bent), and a small number of bronze coins (n=3). When iron nails are found in the graves, they are typically bent and placed inside a ceramic vessel. Detailed analysis of the grave goods is in progress and will help to determine the dates of the tombs excavated in 2011. To-date, 88 burials have been located within the excavated area. The ongoing bioarchaeological analysis of the human remains within the burials provides an opportunity to investigate evidence of health, diet, social structure, and migration in a rural Roman population. Excavation will continue in the cemetery with the goals of understanding the extent of the cemetery, its chronological distribution, patterns in burial practices, and the quality of life in a rural Roman population.

    • Tracy Prowse - McMaster University 

    Director

    Team

    • Katherine Bishop - University of Western Ontario
    • Laura Lockau - McMaster University
    • Liana Brent - .
    • Matthew Emery - .

    Research Body

    • Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, Canada
    • The British School at Rome

    Funding Body

    • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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