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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Professor Rebecca Gowland

Gilmour, R. L., Gowland, R. L., Roberts, C. A., Bernert, Z., Klara Kiss, K & Lassanyi, G. (2015). Gendered Differences in Accidental Trauma to Upper and Lower Limb Bones at Aquincum, Roman Hungary. International Journal of Paleopathology 11: 75-91.

Author(s) from Durham


It was hypothesized that men and women living in the border provinces of the Roman Empire may have encountered different risks associated with their different occupations and activities. Limb bone trauma data were used to assess sex-based differences in physical hazards and evidence for fracture healing and treatment. Two hundred and ten skeletons were examined from a late 1st to early 4th century AD cemetery at Aquincum (Budapest, Hungary). Upper and lower limb bone fracture types, frequencies, distributions, and associated complications were recorded, and gendered patterns in injury risks were explored. Of the 23 fractures identified, both sexes had injuries indicative of falls; males exhibited the only injuries suggestive of higher-energy and more direct forces. Most fractures were well-healed with few complications. The extremity trauma at Aquincum suggests that people buried here experienced less hazardous physical activities than at other Roman provincial sites. The patterns of trauma indicate the occurrence of “traditional” gender roles, whereby male civilians participated in more physically dangerous activities than females. Additionally, treatment may have been equally accessible to men and women, but certain fracture types proved more challenging to reduce using the techniques available.