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Wood, Bone, Iron and Stone: Multidisciplinary Investigations of Daily Life at Late Byzantine Cherson (Crimea)

Dumbarton Oaks Program for Byzantine Studies, Georgetown University Medieval Studies Program, and the Washington Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America. March 14, 2007

Recent excavations in medieval Cherson, destroyed in a violent conflagration in the late 13th c., have uncovered a well-preserved urban block that provides a snapshot of non-elite life in a Late Byzantine provincial city. The block housed a small chapel containing several dozen intact burials, as well as iron-smithing facilities, residential quarters, and a building identified as a small grocery store. This talk presents the preliminary results of a multidisciplinary research program, with a focus on the examination of the paleobotanical remains, the forensic and paleopathological analysis of the human bones, and the study of the archaeometallurgical evidence for ironworking. Together with the other excavated evidence, such scientific analysis gives us a uniquely detailed picture of diet, economy, disease, and industry among the ordinary 12th and 13th-c. inhabitants of this block.