Monday, August 25, 2008

Byzantine Children Burials: Feedback

A main reason that I keep a blog is to communicate and exchange ideas with friends and colleagues. After my last posting "Byzantine Children Burial," I received an email from Amy Papalexandrou that is full of new information, so I've decided to start a new practice of posting email responses. So here is Amy's interesting follow-up:

On Sun, Aug 24, 2008 at 10:30 AM, Amy Papalexandrou <> wrote:

"Kosti!!! I thought I would mention in the context of burials that we are scratching away at the mass of burials at Polis - many of which are children, and that our bioarchaeologist (Brenda Baker, of ASU) is a specialist on child burials. She hasn't had time yet to really attack this particular material but we are lucky to have her on board now with the Byzantinists and she will have much to add to future discussions of this little subset of material. At Polis we have a cemetery (no children in the narthex) to the east of our basilicas that may have been used exclusively for child burials for a time - either that or the inhabitants just didn't dig as deeply for these
graves. At any rate they are mostly together in this case.

Brenda and I (together with an anthro grad student) have done a little article on a single burial at Polis (not a child, though) in which we try to expand the way we archaeologists/Byzantinists have typically looked at the human remains. My goal is to eventually publish the
burials at Cyprus in a somewhat similar way. We had a poster at the APA in Philly in 2007: "Sew Long: A Seamstress Buried at Medieval Polis, Cyprus" and have done a little article: 'The Osteobiography of a Woman from Medieval Polis, Cyprus,' to be published in The Bioarchaeology of Individuals, eds. Ann Stodder and Ann Palkovich (University Press of Florida).

As for the stele, Nassos and I are working on this. I've got good visual material dating from before the fire, of course (including a scale drawing that looks a lot like yours!). We gave a paper on the subject at the AIA in Chicago way back in 1997: "Ancient Images—Byzantine Responses: A Hellenistic Stele from Orchomenos and Its Afterlife" and have since tucked it away on the back burner."

In addition to Amy's response, I also learned that the Greek Archaeological Service has excavated a burial in the narthex of Skripou. And Bill Caraher mentioned an an infant burial at Pyla-Koutsopetria. How could I forget to mention Joe Rife's amazing work on the cemeteries at Isthmia (forthcoming
Isthmia IX)? For a progress report on Joe's field project, see "Multidisciplinary Excavation Launches at Kenchrai,"also in Akoue 57/8 (2007), p. 13.

Camilla MacKay also sent me the following note (email,
Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 10:30 PM)

"Kostis, I liked your post on the burials. Not even close to Byzantine, but when I was in the Agora this summer, Maria Liston was working on the baby well--6th c. maybe? I've forgotten--excavated years ago, with hundreds of newborn to infant baby skeletons and also puppy skeletons, that she thinks represents a couple of midwives over several years. Susan Rotroff is doing the pottery. It will be very interesting..."

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States