Publication details for Dr Becky GowlandGowland, R. L. & Chamberlain, A.T. (2002). A Bayesian Approach to Ageing Perinatal Skeletal Material from Archaeological Sites: Implications for the Evidence for Infanticide in Roman-Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science 29(6): 677-685.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0305-4403
- DOI: 10.1006/jasc.2001.0776
- Keywords: Bayes' Theorum, mortality, Roman, infant
- View online: Online version
- Durham research online: DRO record
Author(s) from Durham
The skeletal remains of substantial numbers of perinatal human infants have been excavated from within a variety of archaeological contexts dating to the Romano-British period. It has been argued that the distribution of ages at death of these infants, which appears to exhibit a pronounced neonatal peak, provides evidence for infanticide. This study re-evaluates the osteological evidence for infanticide in Roman Britain by first identifying biases in traditional techniques for estimating the age of perinatal skeletons and then using a Bayesian procedure to reassess the ages at deaths of almost 400 infants from a number of Roman sites throughout England. We conclude that the apparent peak in neonatal mortality shown by earlier investigations is an artefact of regression-based age estimation. The distribution of ages at death in Romano-British infants is similar to a natural mortality profile.