Romans ‘killed babies at brothel’
June 26, 2010 Leave a comment
The archaeologists believe that locals may have been killing and burying unwanted babies on the site in Hambleden, Buckinghamshire.
Unwanted pregnancies were common in Roman brothels due to little contraception and Romans also considered infanticide less shocking than it is today.
Infants were not considered to be human beings until about the age of two and were not buried in cemeteries if they were younger than that.
Consequently, infant burials tended to be at domestic sites in the Roman era.
“The only explanation you keep coming back to is that it’s got to be a brothel,” Dr Jill Eyers, of Chiltern Archaeology, told the BBC.
Experts say that the number of children killed at Yewden villa in Hambleden is unusually large.
“There is no other site that would yield anything like the 97 infant burials,” said Dr Simon Mays, a skeletal biologist at English Heritage’s Centre for Archaeology, who has been investigating the finds.
The babies were all found to be of roughly the same size, suggesting systematic infanticide at birth rather than death from natural causes, which would have struck infants at different ages, Dr Mays added. Read more.