Himera Necropolis: Mass War Graves

This is the most exciting find - a mass grave with arrows dating to the 5th century BC. Several such graves containing 15 to 25 men were found, containing the bones of healthy young men who died violent deaths. The excavators link them to the Battle of Himera against the Cathaginians in 480 BC. Which is very exciting.

This is an overview of the necropolis - it was a rescue dig before construction of the railway. The excavators expressed surprise at the number of burials; not sure why, as Himera was quite a big city.

It's always handy to find coins in a dig, as these make great evidence for dating - one can argue over the dates of pot sherds, but coins tend to have information regarding date included in the design. If you do find coins, my top tip would be ... do not over-clean them like this.

The necropolis also included graves of children - this one is described as an 'infant' and was excavated holding his bottle. A cup is next to it. His right arm is in a strange position, and his feet are missing. Himera's graves contained large numbers of newborns due to high infant mortality - that's not the case with all necropoli, since the very young were often thrown away (see the drains of the bath in Ashkelon).

This is aparently the ancient baby bottle found next to him, after it had been scrubbed. The shape is called a guttus.

All photos courtesy Stefano Vassallo / Archaeological Superintendence of Palermo

1 comment:

  1. Seems I am a little late. I just blogged about this today.


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