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Civic Corpses: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Imperial Gabii (Italy)

Thursday Lecture Series, Exhaustion

dateMarch 12, 2015 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Ruin of a stone-walled building

After centuries as a small but thriving urban center and quarry less than 20km east of Rome, Gabii essentially collapsed, and the Imperial-era occupation was by the dead rather than the living. Excavations by the Gabii Project since 2009 have uncovered several dozen burials dating to a variety of time periods; the Imperial ones, however, are the most numerous and the most anomalous. From standard lower-class burials a cappuccina to the unique “lead burrito,” the Imperial tombs effectively marked Gabii as a place only for the deceased and reveal a population both similar to and different from people buried at Rome itself. This presentation will address the bioarchaeological evidence of the Imperial burials at Gabii—including age-at-death, sex, stature, and pathological conditions—in an attempt to understand how these defunct bodies produced and were the product of a lifeless city.