Research by Italian researchers shows that a typical Roman worker did not live to be 30 years old. Scientists used the latest technology to scan found skeletons from ancient times.
The examined bones proved that these people suffered from arthritis and numerous fractures of the limbs. Moreover, their diet was very poor and dominated by rotten grains, with very high physical exertion.
Most of the skeletons found in the suburbs of Rome (dated to the 1st-3rd century CE) have broken noses, arms and collarbones. Fractures were common injuries in people of low origin. Scientists were able to confirm that some of the deceased also suffered from bone cancer.
Researchers say it can only be assumed, based on the remains of the deceased, that they may have worked in the nearby salt mines during their lifetime – this is indicated by arthritis in the bones. Moreover, broken limbs were stiffened with wooden stabilizers, hoping that the bones would heal. This proves that the ancients were skilled in this type of injury.
These skeletons have been found in the last 15 years when construction works were carried out on the route from Rome to Naples. The bodies were buried in two ancient cemeteries; eight of them belonged to people from North Africa and from across the Alps. The immigrants, mainly children and men, were buried in modest graves, which may say that they came to the city with the hope of a better life. According to scientists, the newcomers also had to adapt to the Roman cuisine, based mainly on grain, vegetables, as well as meat and fish.