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The story so far

So far you’ve explored the Roman attitudes to death and how it was the responsibility of the living to ensure that the transition from life to death was dignified. Great …

How do you find funeral details from bones?

Here, we look at how osteologists use the cremated bone fragments to reconstruct the details of the funeral, particularly the funeral pyre. When bone is subject to extreme heat it …

Complete your Profile of COL_20

Throughout this course you’ve been unlocking the secrets behind COL_20, one of the 22 cremations from Roman cemeteries around Colchester selected by our research team. You’ve watched Carolina and Emily …

Osteological analysis: pathology

Watch Carolina and Emily discuss how an osteologist uses their knowledge of human remains to identify the diseases someone lived with; often this is easier for unburnt than cremated remains, …

Osteological analysis: age and sex

Carolina joins Emily again to find out what particular bone fragments can tell us about the biological sex and age of the individual. (We use the term ‘biological sex’ or …

Osteological analysis: bone colour

Carolina joins Emily again to find out what the colour of the bone fragments can tell us about that person’s funerary process – and the temperature of the funeral pyre …

What’s in the pot?

As academics and researchers, we have a lot of questions about the individuals whose cremated remains reside in the museum. To find some answers, Dr Carolina Lima met with Osteologist, …

Finding new life in old collections

Colchester is Britain’s earliest recorded town and, incredibly, the cremated remains of the people who lived there and helped birth Roman Britain survive. These cremated remains were excavated over 100 …

Strontium Location Analysis

Strontium location analysis addresses the inherent bias towards elite men in the written sources (described in the previous Step) to discover information about migration and emigration in the Roman Empire. …

Strontium Isotope Analysis on Bones

Until just a few years ago, isotope analysis could not be used on cremated remains because the heat of the pyre damaged the tooth enamel and altered the isotope signatures …

Roman attitudes to death

You may be surprised to know that studying the Roman dead reveals a great deal about the behaviours of the living. We can gain a good understanding of Roman ideas …

Cremation Process

In this article, you will learn more about cremation process. Although there was no single, prescribed, ‘correct’ Roman funeral, numerous ancient sources tell us that they consisted of four parts: …

Roman Britain and Colchester’s early history

In his Eclogues (the first of his three major works), Roman poet Virgil referred to the Britons as being “wholly separated from all the world” (i.66). Before the conquest, Britain …

Meet the research team

The University of Reading and Colchester Museums, in partnership with Durham University, have been leading an exciting research project to uncover new information about Roman Britain from the cremation burials …

Ideas for future learning

We hope you’ve enjoyed the course. Below are ideas for how you can take your learning further. Visit Colchester Museum Visit the exhibition inspired by the research you’ve followed on …