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Document Details :
Title: The Lady of the Simpelveld Sarcophagus
Subtitle: An Osteo-Archaeological Approach
Author(s): WATERS-RIST, Andrea , HALBERTSMA, Ruurd , JENESON, Karen
Volume: 92 Date: 2017
The Roman-period burial chest from Simpelveld has captured the interest of archaeologists and the public since its discovery in 1930. Substantial looting has disturbed the original contents, but there remains some cremated human material. Despite the incomplete and fragmented nature of these remains, this paper demonstrates that through detailed and advanced analyses much can be learned about the person buried in the chest. Macroscopic and microscopic analyses are undertaken to reconstruct variables about the cremation process, estimate sex and age-at-death, and document pathological conditions. The results reveal the Simpelveld chest’s occupant was a middle-aged (35-49 years) female, free from pathological lesions or skeletal anomalies, most notably lacking any signs of osteoarthritis. This osteobiographic profile largely matches the representation of the lady on the inside of the chest, suggesting it was made specifically for her and, with the lack of osteoarthritis, that she probably lived a privileged life. This study improves our understanding of this lady and Roman-period villa life in the south of the Netherlands in general.