Life and death at the “The Land of Three Lakes”: Revisiting the non-adults from Roman Aventicum, Switzerland (1st–3rd century CE)
Publication date: September 2018
Source: International Journal of Paleopathology, Volume 22
Author(s): Chryssi Bourbou
The study of Roman childhood has been the focus of research primarily using documentary and archaeological evidence, while relatively few non-adult skeletal assemblages have been analyzed. This paper presents the study of 93 non-adult individuals from four cemeteries in the Roman (1st–3rd c. CE) civitas capital of Aventicum (Avenches), Switzerland. The results of the analysis offer a new bioarchaeological perspective on mortality and disease patterns during childhood in Roman Switzerland, adding to the discussion regarding living conditions in the urban centers at the periphery of the Roman Empire. This study also highlights the importance of studying perinates in archaeological populations, since the current research inform us about the experiences of mothers and their offspring in Aventicum. The mortality and disease patterns of the perinates, representing 71% of the total non-adult sample (66/93), suggest that pregnancy and the time around birth were extremely challenging at Aventicum. It is argued that environmental constraints, e.g. the risk of infectious diseases such as malaria and natural phenomena such as recurring floods resulting in resources scarcity, could have considerably affected the mother-fetus pair in this urban settlement.