Monday 6 February 2012

Lucius Valerius Geminus

Hey, kids. This post is not so much forensic anthropology, as archaeological conservation meets Asterix. Today, with a colleague, I have been priviledged to be involved in preserving for prosterity one of the rarest Roman tombstones in Britain. In roughly AD 43, the Roman legion Legio II Augusta came to England as part of the Roman invasion and conquest of Britain. This legion was responsible for building Hadrian's wall and defeating Boudica. After the defeat of Boudica, the legion dispersed over Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and built a wooden fortress near Bicester, near what was to become the Roman town of Alchester. One of the legionnaires was Lucius Valerius Geminus, who took to life in England. He married a local girl, and didn't want to return to Italy in his old age. When he died, he was given a splendid, engraved tombstone. This tombstone was later smashed up and used as material to build a stone wall around the town. In 2003, excavations of the town wall began near the west gate. Most of the stone had been stolen, but two stones from the tombstone were found in situ and more in the rubble from the wall. The surviving stones from the tombstone are now under the care of Oxfordshire Museum Resource Centre, who asked Cranfield Forensic Institute to preserve them in virtual form, to provide 3D images for subsequent museum display. We started to scan the stones today and will continue tomorrow.
This is the fragmented tombstone as it looks today.
The inscription reads:
"To the souls of the departed: Lucius Valerius Geminus, the son of Lucius, of the Pollia voting tribe, from Forum Germanorum, verteran of the Second Augustan Legion, aged 50(?), lies here. His heir had this set up in accordance with his will."

We scanned it using our 3D topographical scanner, which generates a 3D mesh image that be used for stereo lithography (rapid prototyping). A mason will be given the images and asked to create a replica of the complete tombstone for display.

This is me getting to grips with the scanner!
Scanning in action!

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