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Department of Archaeology


The aim of this project is to better understand the health consequences of parasitism in the Roman world. The Romans were responsible for introducing sanitation and hygiene infrastructure to those parts their empire where it did not exist before. Communal latrines for town inhabitants, individual latrines in homes, public baths for washing, sewerage systems, clean piped drinking water and sanitation legislation were hallmarks of Roman influence. However, the impact of this upon the health of their subjects is a complex topic. Large areas of the Roman World have undergone little or no analysis of intestinal parasites, which hampers meaningful analysis.

This project will investigate many Roman period sites in regions for which we have limited knowledge of the parasites endemic there. We will also study populations prior to and after the Romans, to look for change that may have resulted from Roman influence. Comparison of geographical regions across the empire will help to explain how climate, diet, and cultural practices in different Roman provinces may have affected risk of infection in the population. Study of the pelvic soil of Roman period burials will start to provide evidence for how common its was to be infected by parasites, which is something that was not possible in past studies of communal latrines. Analysis of new material from sites in Britain, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Turkey and elsewhere will lead to improved understanding of intestinal health and disease in the Roman period.

Team Members

Marissa Ledger


No funder - own funds

Project Tags

Science, Technology and Innovation
Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Periods of interest: 
Classical - Roman
Geographical areas: 
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Human Population Biology and Health
Human Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
Biomolecular Archaeology
Biological Anthropology
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