image/svg+xml123 VII/1/2016 INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICA NATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGY homepage: http://www.iansa.eu Living at the Outskirts of the Roman Empire after the Fall. A Study of 5 th Century Bavarian Burials Michaela Harbeck a* , Silvia Codreanu-Windauer b , George McGlynn a , Ramona Müller a , Jochen Haberstroh c a State Collection of Anthropology and Palaeoanatomy, Munich, Karolinenplatz 2a, 80333 München, Germany b Bavarian State Department for the Preservation of Historical Monuments, Adolf-Schmetzer-Str. 1, 93055 Regensburg, Germany c Bavarian State Department for the Preservation of Historical Monuments, Hofgraben 4, 80539 München, Germany 1. Introduction Beginning around the middle of the 3 rd century AD, internal crises and external conficts occurring at various sections of the imperial border eventually led to the start of Rome’s retreat from certain areas of its northern Alpine provinces. In particular, Germanic invasions during the 3 rd century led to the abandonment of the „Upper Raetian Limes“ in favour of a Roman defence line along the Rhine, Iller and Danube rivers (Donau-Iller-Rhine-Limes). Rome’s withdrawal from its northern province, however, began even before the Limes was abandoned in 254 AD. A widespread decline in the material as well as cultural sectors followed. This is the beginning of the transformation process from antiquity to the Middle Ages in what is today Southern Germany. The transformation process from the Late Roman to the Medieval period in central Europe specifcally spans the time between the 3 rd and 6 th century AD. The 5 th century AD is especially relevant for this transitional period and will be the focus of study for the region of Bavaria. This epoch is characterized by the fnalization of Rome’s military retreat and the emergence of a new burial practice in which the dead are interred side by side in rows, a practice considered typical for the Early Middle Ages in this region ( cf. Haas-Gebhard 2013a, 54–87). Bavaria can be divided into three large areas which take on diferent developmental features during the Late Antiquity to Early Medieval times: Southern Bavaria (R2) – the main part of the Roman province “ Raetia Secunda ” during the entire period, located on the southern banks of the Danube. Northern Bavaria (R3) – north of the Raetian Limes and east of the Limes of Germania Prima within the banks of the River Main, that was never part of Roman provinces. Volume VII ● Issue 1/2016 ● Pages 123–135 *Corresponding author. E-mail: michaela.harbeck@extern.lrz-muenchen.de ARTICLE INFO Article history: Received: 11 th December 2015Accepted: 27 th September 2016 Key words: Roman Imperial AgeMiddle Agesstress markerbody height cribra orbitalia enamel hypoplasiastrontium, isotope ABSTRACT The long lasting transformation process from the Roman Imperial Age to Early Middle Ages reaches its zenith in the 5 th century AD. The present study focuses on southern Bavaria during this specifc time period, which up to that point was incorporated into the Roman Empire as the province Raetia Secunda . All known existing anthropological data were collected and examined in order to provide an overview of a momentary anthropological understanding for this time period. The study is augmented by additionally-conducted anthropological and strontium isotope analyses on skeletons from four recently-discovered contemporary cemeteries to provide information on the health and living conditions of the past local populations there. However, results show that anthropological data for this time and region are rare and therefore generalized conclusions based on anthropological information are seldom possible. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that an increase in body height near the end of the 5 th century, as well as diferences in the frequency of stress markers, were observed in the small cemeteries investigated. Furthermore, strontium analysis showed that in contrast to the late Roman period, immigrants from areas with high strontium values were detected near the end of the 5 th century.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2016 ● VII/1 ● 123–135 Michaela Harbeck, Silvia Codreanu-Windauer, George McGlynn, Ramona Müller, Jochen Haberstroh: Living at the Outskirts of the Roman Empire after the Fall. A Study of 5 th Century Bavarian Burials 124 Frontier Regions (Grenzregion: GR) – These include the late Roman province borders situated in southern Bavaria as well as areas abandoned following the fall of the Limes in the 3 rd century AD. There are zones which were under Roman control for only 6 generations (from the initial building of the Limes to its completion) situated between the Main and Danube rivers and between the former frontiers.In this study, various archaeological and anthropological characteristics of southern Bavaria are compared with those observed for the border regions. Prior to the 3 rd century AD cremating the dead was the primary form of burial ritual practiced in the Roman Empire. Following this era, inhumations became the dominant form of burial in southern Bavaria. These late Roman burials were interred in small cemeteries containing no more than 40 individuals. It is a widespread assumption that this cemetery form was discontinued shortly before or around 400 AD (Keller 1971). Burials lacking any grave goods whatsoever are found in almost all of these cemeteries. There is some indication that they represent the fnal phase of the burial ground; however, dating these burials is extremely difcult. It is likely that these cemeteries do not always date to around 400 AD and that the burials may in fact bridge the gap between the end of the late Roman period and the beginning of Early Medieval times in the middle of the 5 th century AD. No other evidence for inhumations or cremation burials for the frst half of the 5 th century exists in southern Bavaria (R2). Only at the Augsburg-Schwalbeneck cemetery in Augsburg, the capital of the province Raetia II , is their evidence for continuous use throughout this time frame (Bakker, Fleps 2002). In contrast, examples for a direct succession from late Roman fort cemeteries to new Early Medieval burial grounds can be found at the frontier region (GR) adjoining the late Roman province border along the Danube ( e.g. Straubing-Azlburg, Straubing-Bajuwarenstraße), (Christlein 1968; Geisler 1998). The emergence of larger cemeteries only began in southern and northern Bavaria in the last decades of the 5 th century and those were located far behind the former frontier ( e.g. Altenerding; Losert; Pleterski 2003). We present a summary of available data for cemeteries of southern Bavaria (R2) and the border region (GR) to give an overview of the status quo of anthropological research in this area. In addition, four recently-excavated, small, contemporary cemeteries situated in this area are presented here in more detail. These are notable due to the abundance of grave goods documented in some of the burials:1. Erding-Kletthamer-Feld is an example of a Late Roman cemetery, dating from the second half of the 4 th century AD to the frst quarter of the 5 th century AD ( cf. Sofeso et al . 2012) in southern Bavaria (R2, Erding, Upper Bavaria). Some of the graves found there are unique for rural Raetia at that time: three adult aged women were buried with gold jewellery and several glass vessels.2. The archaeological site “Unterhaching” (near Munich)