April 15, 2024

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An elite Roman man buried with a sword may have been “chained” in death

An elite Roman man buried with a sword may have been “chained” in death

In an isolated field near a Roman villa in Wales, archaeologists have discovered the skeleton of a man buried face down. Adorned with a silver pin and sword, he may have been a Roman soldier—but the large nails near his neck, back, and feet provide tantalizing evidence that he was bound at death.

This burial and four others, dating from the middle of the third to late fourth centuries, were discovered Red River Archeology, a UK-based antiquities company, during a road improvement project near the town of Barry in South Wales. Archaeologists believe that the burials may be associated with Wheaton Lodge Roman Villawhich was originally excavated half a century ago.

The man, whose age was estimated to be between 21 and 25 at his death, was placed in a rock-hewn tomb that may have been surrounded by planks, based on the discovery of nails at the top and bottom of the hole, according to The Guardian. Mark Collard, managing director of Red River Archeology. In an email to Live Science, Collard noted, “The show [facedown] The placement of very large nails at the back of the neck, shoulder, and between the feet may indicate limitations.”

Archaeologists found a silver crossbow-shaped brooch in the man’s burial. It was probably used to tie a cloak. (Image credit: © Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum of Wales)

Contrary to the interpretation of a non-elite or slave individual, the man’s personal ornaments—an iron sword, spiked shoes, and a silver crossbow brooch—suggest that he may have been an elite member of the Roman army.