Africans in Roman Britain

Saw this in something called The Voice:

AN INTERACTIVE website for children highlighting the diversity of Roman Britain will be launched tomorrow in a bid to challenge lessons on the current history curriculum.

The Romans Revealed project – a collaboration between race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust and archaeologists from the University of Reading – will be officially launched at the Museum of London on April 25.

It will act as a learning resource for teachers and parents to show children about a lesser-known side of the historical period.

The interactive website allows children to ‘dig up’ graves and read stories by children’s author Caroline Lawrence told from the perspective of four people living in Roman Britain.

It follows a research project from the university, A Long Way Home: Diaspora Communities in Roman Britain, which examined over 150 skeletons to find out about patterns of migration.

Dr Hella Eckardt, senior lecturer in Roman Archaeology at the University of Reading, said: “Our analysis of excavated skeletal remains of people living in Roman Britain such as the ‘Ivory Bangle Lady’ and others like her show that multicultural Britain is not just a phenomenon of more modern times.”

By analysing skeletons facial features, skull measurements, the chemical signature of food and drink and burial goods, archaeologists were able to learn more about Roman times and migrants of African descent who came to Britain.

The ‘Ivory Bangle Lady’ was a high status young woman of North African descent who remains were buried in Roman York (Sycamore Terrace).

Dated to the second half of the 4th Century, her grave contained jet and elephant ivory bracelets, earrings, pendants, beads, a blue glass jug and a glass mirror.

Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, who is leading the Romans Revealed outreach project, said: “The University of Reading research results showed that people came to Britain from many different parts of the Roman Empire, including North Africa. In some of the larger towns like York and Winchester, up to 20 per cent of the Roman Britain population may be classed as ‘non-local’ or ‘incomers’.

“This research is really important, providing evidence to challenge the current curriculum as taught in schools and highlighting the diversity of Roman Britain.”

According to the National Archives, the official archive for the UK Government, people of African descent have had a presence in Britain for the past 2,000 years.

In Roman times, black troops were sent to the ‘remote and barbaric’ province of Britannia – the ancient term for Great Britain – with many settling permanently even after the Roman legions left.

via: Children’s website tells stories of Roman Britain’s Africans (The Voice)

… you can check out the Romans Revealed website here … if you’re interested in some of the finds which probably contributed to this project:

I know there was something (at rogueclassicism) involving a burial of an African woman in Britain that was also connected with Caroline Lawrence (i.e. she wrote about it too), but my search engine divinities appear to have gone to visit the blameless Ethiopians or something …

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