June 16, 2009

Africans in Roman York, England

The authors used both anthroposcopy and FORDISC to assess ancestry. From the paper:
The results generated by the two different approaches for ancestral assessment were for the most part in accord. However, some individuals generated conflicting data (see Table 6). In these cases, it was the cranial vault rather than the facial characteristics that caused the discrepancy and this probably reflects a degree of intrapopulation variation, overlap, and genetic admixture (Howells, 1995). In addition, some crania showed little affinity with any of the FORDISC 3.0 reference populations (e.g., TDC472, TDC467, TDC317, and RE24, RE34, RE38) and may have originated from groups not represented in the dataset.


In the European groups, the crania showed the greatest affinity with the Northern European and American White reference samples. The diversity of the female crania from Trentholme Drive suggests a degree of heterogeneity, which contradicts Warwick’s (1962, p 110) assertion that the women from this site were indigenous. For the African groups, the crania demonstrated the greatest resemblance to the American Black reference samples of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, perhaps reflecting a similar degree of genetic admixture in these populations. Individuals with a close affinity to the Egyptian skulls were also identified at both sites, and this is perhaps not surprising considering the Roman Empire included these areas of North Africa. What is also clear is that both males and females with affinities to African groups appear in both the high status Railway site and at Trentholme Drive.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology doi:10.1002/ajpa.21104 About DOI

Migration and diversity in Roman Britain: A multidisciplinary approach to the identification of immigrants in Roman York, England

Stephany Leach et al.


Previous anthropological investigations at Trentholme Drive, in Roman York identified an unusual amount of cranial variation amongst the inhabitants, with some individuals suggested as having originated from the Middle East or North Africa. The current study investigates the validity of this assessment using modern anthropological methods to assess cranial variation in two groups: The Railway and Trentholme Drive. Strontium and oxygen isotope evidence derived from the dentition of 43 of these individuals was combined with the craniometric data to provide information on possible levels of migration and the range of homelands that may be represented. The results of the craniometric analysis indicated that the majority of the York population had European origins, but that 11% of the Trentholme Drive and 12% of The Railway study samples were likely of African decent. Oxygen analysis identified four incomers, three from areas warmer than the UK and one from a cooler or more continental climate. Although based on a relatively small sample of the overall population at York, this multidisciplinary approach made it possible to identify incomers, both men and women, from across the Empire. Evidence for possible second generation migrants was also suggested. The results confirm the presence of a heterogeneous population resident in York and highlight the diversity, rather than the uniformity, of the population in Roman Britain.



Anonymous said...

I was reading inscriptions in a cemetary in Aquilaeia , Italy and surprised to find a group of people a military leader and his retainers so far as I could decipher who had retired (or been reassigned?) from eboracum england. I think it was around two or three hundred A.D. York must have been a busy place. Is there a place on the web full of Roman Inscripations? Aquilaeia is a fascinating place.

Major Tom said...

Try to see this