infant’s skeleton found at the Hambleden site. An analysis of remains from 35
infants revealed they were most likely killed at birth. English Heritage.|
Ancient Roman Infanticide Didn’t Spare Either Sex. By Stephanie Pappas. LiveScience, January 24, 2014. Also at Discovery News.
Ancient DNA study of the remains of putative infanticide victims from the Yewden Roman villa site at Hambleden, England. By Naglaa Abu-Mandil Hassana, Keri A. Brown, Jill Eyers, Terence A. Brown, and Simon Mays. Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 43 (March 2014).
Previous analysis of the perinatal infant burials from Romano-British Yewden villa, Hambleden, indicated the practice of infanticide at that site. We attempted to determine whether this practice was specifically targeted at one sex or other by determining the sex of the infants using analysis of fragments of the amelogenin gene. We also analysed mtDNA in order to shed light on aspects of kinship. Thirty-three infants were analysed, and sex was successfully identified in 12. Seven were female, five male. No two infants shared identical mtDNA polymorphisms, indicating that all came from different mothers. Taken together with previous DNA results from perinatal remains from Romano-British sites where infanticide has been identified, they provide no evidence that manipulation of the sex ratio was a motivation for infanticide in Roman Britain.
A new look at a cache of baby bones discovered in Britain is altering assumptions about why ancient Romans committed infanticide.