The catacombs of Santa Lucia were built during the 3rd century CE in Siracusa, Sicily, Italy, as a burial site for members of the local Christian community until the early 8th century CE. This site is an important cemeterial context of the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. The tombs and artifacts found suggest that individuals of varying wealth were buried in the catacombs. Historical accounts also confirm the presence of a significant Christian community from Syria and the Levant in Siracusa during this period. The objective of this research is to investigate the life histories of the Late Antique community interred in the catacombs using stable isotope analysis. This technique aimed to clarify the dietary differences between individuals of different social status and geographical origins, in order to re-evaluate the data from historical documents. To achieve this, we conducted stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope analyses on skeletal samples from 25 individuals recovered from the catacombs of Santa Lucia, using established methods. The results revealed significant dietary diversity among the individuals buried in the catacombs, with evidence of the consumption of both C3 and C4 plants, as well as fish from both freshwater and sea sources. The oxygen isotopes show a particularly broad range in both the small sample set of bones and the larger set of teeth, suggesting a significant degree of mobility for most of the individuals tested. The high variability found in the diet and the evidence of mobility for most of the individuals tested not only between early age and adulthood, but also throughout their lives. It raises new questions and calls for the consideration of the archaeological and historical implications of these novel discoveries.

Diet and mobility in Late Antique Sicily: Isotopic data from the catacombs of Santa Lucia, Siracusa (Italy)

Greco E.
2023-01-01

Abstract

The catacombs of Santa Lucia were built during the 3rd century CE in Siracusa, Sicily, Italy, as a burial site for members of the local Christian community until the early 8th century CE. This site is an important cemeterial context of the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. The tombs and artifacts found suggest that individuals of varying wealth were buried in the catacombs. Historical accounts also confirm the presence of a significant Christian community from Syria and the Levant in Siracusa during this period. The objective of this research is to investigate the life histories of the Late Antique community interred in the catacombs using stable isotope analysis. This technique aimed to clarify the dietary differences between individuals of different social status and geographical origins, in order to re-evaluate the data from historical documents. To achieve this, we conducted stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope analyses on skeletal samples from 25 individuals recovered from the catacombs of Santa Lucia, using established methods. The results revealed significant dietary diversity among the individuals buried in the catacombs, with evidence of the consumption of both C3 and C4 plants, as well as fish from both freshwater and sea sources. The oxygen isotopes show a particularly broad range in both the small sample set of bones and the larger set of teeth, suggesting a significant degree of mobility for most of the individuals tested. The high variability found in the diet and the evidence of mobility for most of the individuals tested not only between early age and adulthood, but also throughout their lives. It raises new questions and calls for the consideration of the archaeological and historical implications of these novel discoveries.
2023
18-giu-2023
Pubblicato
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352409X23002717?via=ihub
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
1-s2.0-S2352409X23002717-main.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Documento in Versione Editoriale
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 17.66 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
17.66 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri
Pubblicazioni consigliate

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3051599
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 0
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 0
social impact