River finds may be remains of head-hunting victims or of defeated gladiators
© Museum of London
Rare evidence of ritual beheadings in ancient Roman-controlled London comes from three dozen human skulls bearing an array of serious wounds, scientists say.
Decapitated heads were placed in closely spaced pits along Walbrook Stream, a tributary of the Thames River, say biological anthropologist Rebecca Redfern of the Museum of London and forensic anthropologist Heather Bonney of the Natural History Museum in London.
Damage from clubs, knives and other weapons suggests that the skulls came from victims of head-hunting by Roman soldiers or from mortally wounded gladiators who fought in a nearby amphitheater, Redfern and Bonney report January 10 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.