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Shackled Roman-Era Skeleton Unearthed in England

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

England Roman ShacklesLONDON, ENGLAND—According to a CNN report, construction workers in central England discovered the skeletal remains of a man with iron fetters around his ankles. The bones have been radiocarbon dated to between A.D. 226 and 427. “We do know that the Roman Empire relied quite heavily on slave labor,” said osteologist Chris Chinnock of the Museum of London Archaeology. Chinnock and his colleagues suspect that this man, who was found on his right side with his left side and arm on a slope in a ditch, had been enslaved. Examination of the skeleton shows the man led a physically demanding life, but his cause of death is unknown. In particular, the growth of a bony spur on an upper leg bone may have been the result of a healed injury from a fall or a blow, or repeated activity. Team member Michael Marshall suggests the expensive shackles may have been left on the body as a symbolic punishment to exert power. Some Roman sources indicate that the dead were restrained in order to keep them from rising and influencing the living. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Britannia. To read about the remains of a man from Pompeii who performed repetitive physical labor, go to "More Vesuvius Victims."

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