International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution
Coverage: 1923-1941 (Vols. I-XIX) & 1962-2023 (Vols. 1-61)
ISSN 0323-1119 (Print)
ISSN 2570-9127 (Online)
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'Capasso L, Pierfelice L, Michetti E, Di Fabrizio A, D'Anastasio R, 2004: Lesions Linked to Athletic Activities in the Ancient Roman Population from Herculaneum (Italy, 1st Century AD). Anthropologie (Brno) 42, 2: 181-187'.
Through archaeological and written sources we know that the Romans devoted great attention to many athletic activities. However, the examination of skeletal materials carried out until now had not provided biological evidence for this love of sport. For this reason, the authors examined the frequencies and types of traumatic lesions (skeletal fractures, enthesopathies, and syndesmoses) observable on the perfectly preserved skeletons of the inhabitants of the Roman town of Herculaneum who died during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 25, 79 AD. The authors show that in this population the epidemiology, topographic distribution, and typology of the skeletal fractures, as well as the syndesmoses and enthesopathies, were largely linked to daily activities and to stress risks typical of the time (including slavery) and place (including the major economic activities, such as fishing). However, the authors also discovered a possible boxer (with typical nasal and hand bone fractures) and a possible javelin-thrower (with typical humeral epicondylus exostoses); stress fractures of the foot linked to long marches and fractures of the talus due to foot hyperextension are also well documented. The authors show that some of these lesions can be linked to the sporting equipment typical of the Romans, and also match lesions observed in modern athletes. The authors conclude that among the victims of the eruption of Vesuvius there were athletes that worked in Herculaneum's gymnasia and circus.
Paleopathology - Sports lesions - Herculaneum

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