Condemned to <i>Metallum</i>?: llluminating Life at the Byzantine Mining Camp at Phaeno in Jordan

Megan A. Perry, Drew S. Coleman, David L. Dettman and Abdel Halim al-Shiyab

in Bioarchaeology and Behavior

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780813042299
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043449 | DOI:
Condemned to Metallum?: llluminating Life at the Byzantine Mining Camp at Phaeno in Jordan

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The Byzantine Empire managed a complex administrative network that controlled the mining and processing of natural resources from within its boundaries. Ancient sources note that many mining camps contained criminal laborers and elite administrators transported from distant locales. This analysis explores the presence of non-local individuals in a cemetery associated with the 3rd-6th century A.D. copper mining camp of Phaeno (Khirbet Faynan), located in modern Jordan, to illuminate this textual evidence. Strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of 31 burials from Phaeno's Southern Cemetery indicates that most individuals spent their childhood in a region geologically and climatologically similar to Khirbet Faynan, implying that they were locally born. Assessment of lead and copper levels in the skeletal remains indicates that some individuals had more exposure to toxic fumes related to smelting and mining, but these individuals showed no differences in health and disease from the rest of the population.

Keywords: Jordan; Byzantine; Isotopes; Heavy metals; Paleopathology

Chapter.  7666 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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