Human Evolution

, Volume 11, Issue 3–4, pp 249–259 | Cite as

Skeletal material from the house of C iulius polybius in Pompeii, 79 AD

  • M. Henneberg
  • R. J. Henneberg
  • A. Ciarallo


Among partly mixed collection of skeletal remains excavated in the house called “Casa di Polibio” skeletons of 13 individuals were re-assembled and identified. There were 3 adult males, 3 adult females of various ages, 4 boys, 1 girl, child of unknown sex and one foetus in the last month of intrauterine life. The foetus was associated with the skeleton of a young (16–18 years) female whose bones are stained green-blue-black, probably by the jewellery or costume. Craniometric, odontometric, and osteometric data, together with reconstruction of stature are presented. Besides a mild case of torticollis in a young adult male no special pathologies were found. Enamel hypoplasia was frequent (87.5%). Presence of dental calculus on teeth of practically all individuals, frequent dental caries (63.6% of individuals), and moderate tooth wear indicate diet of well-cooked foods rich in carbohydrates. On grounds of age and biological characteristics it may be suggested that the group included older parents, their children, eldest son and his pregnant young wife plus a pair of domestics. Other possibilities include three adult couples: grandparents, parents and newlywed eldest daughter and her husband. Final resolution of family relationships must await full analysis of metric data and the DNA analysis. It seems that the group is representative of a Pompeian household: many children born approximately 3 years apart, early age at marriage, good food, relative freedom from disfiguring disease.

Key words

dental pathology odontometry osteometry fetal skeleton 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Henneberg
    • 1
  • R. J. Henneberg
    • 1
  • A. Ciarallo
    • 2
  1. 1.Wood Jones Chair of Anthropological and Comparative Anatomy Department of Anatomy and Histology, Medical SchoolUniversity of AdelaideAdelaide
  2. 2.Soprintendenza Archeologica di PompeiPompei (NA)Italy

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