Past Research

Migration and Mobility in Imperial Rome (PhD research, 2005-2010)

My dissertation research involved osteological analysis of two cemetery populations from Rome, Italy, curated by the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma. Imperial Rome was the seat of a colonial force and a significant preindustrial urban center. For centuries, scholarship was concerned only with the radiation of Roman culture to the provinces, and the issue of immigrants coming to Rome has been underresearched by all but historical demographers, for whom immigrants are little more than a statistic. Modern theoretical discussions in anthropology, however, conceive of migration as a process in which active agents move within and between both geographic and cultural space. My research views migration to Rome through the lens of transnationalism, using chemical analysis and archaeological and osteological data to investigate individual migrants’ lives and identities and to situate them within a contextualized social field of migration.

  • Publications resulting from this research include:
    • Killgrove K (In press, 2017). Imperialism and physiological stress in Rome and its environs (1st-3rd centuries AD). In: Bioarchaeology of Contact, Colonialism, and Imperialism, H. Klaus and M. Murphy, eds. University Press of Florida.
    • Killgrove K (In press, 2017). Using skeletal remains as a proxy for Roman lifestyles: the potential and problems with osteological reconstructions of health, diet, and stature in Imperial Rome. In Diet and Nutrition in the Roman World, C. Holleran and P. Erdkamp, eds. Routledge.
    • Killgrove K. (Under review). Using biological distance techniques to investigate the heterogeneous population of Imperial Rome. Manuscript under review for edited volume, The Archaeology of Circulation, Exchange, and Human Migration, D. Peterson and J. Dudgeon, eds.
    • Killgrove K and J Montgomery. 2016. All roads lead to Rome: Exploring human migration to the Eternal City through biochemistry of skeletons from two Imperial-era cemeteries (1st-3rd c AD).PLOS ONE 11(2): e0147585. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147585. [PDF and HTML]
    • Killgrove K. 2013. Biohistory of the Roman Republic: the potential of isotope analysis of human skeletal remains.  Post-Classical Archaeologies 3:41-62. [PDF]
    • Killgrove K and R Tykot. 2013.  Food for Rome: a stable isotope investigation of diet in the Imperial period (1st-3rd centuries AD). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32(1):28-38. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2012.08.002. [PDF]
    • Killgrove K. 2010. Identifying immigrants to Imperial Rome using strontium isotope analysis. In Roman Diasporas: Archaeological Approaches to Mobility and Diversity in the Roman Empire, H. Eckardt ed. Journal of Roman Archaeology supplement 78, Chapter 9, pp. 157-174.  [PDF]
    • Montgomery J, J Evans, S Chenery, V Pashley, K Killgrove. 2010. “Gleaming, white and deadly”: lead exposure and geographic origins in the Roman period. In Roman Diasporas: Archaeological Approaches to Mobility and Diversity in the Roman Empire, H. Eckardt ed. Journal of Roman Archaeology supplement 78, Chapter 11, pp. 199-226.
    • Killgrove K. 2010. Migration and Mobility in Imperial Rome. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina. [PDF] [Hard Copy]
    • Musco S, A Caspio, P Catalano, W Pantano, K Killgrove. 2008. Le complexe archéologique de Casal Bertone. Les Dossiers d’Archéologie 330 (Nov/Dec):32-39. [PDF]

Bioarchaeology in the Roman World (MA research, 2002-2005)

On account of differences in the evolution of the field of anthropology in American and Italian scholarship, the role of bioarchaeology has been nearly non-existent in the latter. Numerous scholars over the past two decades have advocated a more holistic approach to Roman archaeology, namely fostering communication between the disciplines of anthropology and classics, yet little has been accomplished towards this goal. A change in the current perception of the Roman world is necessary in order to dismantle long-held assumptions about this culture. The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate the utility of bioarchaeology as applied to the Roman world for framing and answering questions about the lifeways of people in this ancient society.

  • Publications resulting from this research include:
    • Killgrove K. 2005. Bioarchaeology in the Roman World. M.A. Thesis, Department of Classics, University of North Carolina. [PDF] [Hard Copy]

Defining Relationships between Native American Groups (MA research, 2000-2002)

Analysis of morphological variation in human crania and dentition is the most commonly used tool for assessing biological relationships among groups of people based on skeletal remains. These relationships are often termed “biological distance” or “biodistance.” The biodistance between two populations can be significant based on clearly distinct cranial and dental traits, indicating that the two populations did not have a high degree of interbreeding or cultural interaction or that their genetic ancestries were markedly different. An insignificant biodistance factor, on the other hand, can indicate that two populations had similar genetic make-up in regard to their skeletal remains and thus were likely closely related.

Around the time of European contact with the New World, ethnohistoric accounts state that Native Americans living along the North Carolina coastal plain were split into three groups based on differing languages. Archaeologists have used this information, as well as typology of ossuary sites and material culture, to classify these cultural groups. Skeletal data from 12 sites in North Carolina and two sites in Virginia comprise the archaeological component of this analysis. Comparative archaeological populations from Georgia and Tennessee, as well as a modern Caucasian sample, are examined as well.

Statistical analysis of cranial nonmetric variants from the Algonkian, Iroquoian, and Siouan language groups shows no clear differences among the groups examined. However, most sample populations examined suffer from small sample size and lack of continuity of the skeletal data. Although the data do not unequivocally support divergence among populations on the North Carolina coastal plain during the Late Woodland, they do aid in interpretation of the Hollowell (31CO5) site as culturally affiliated with the Iroquoian group.

  • Publications resulting from this research include:
    • Killgrove K. 2009. Rethinking taxonomies: skeletal variation on the North Carolina coastal plain. Southeastern Archaeology 28(1):87-100. [PDF]
    • Killgrove K. 2002. Defining Relationships between Native American Groups: a Biodistance Study of the North Carolina Coastal Plain. M.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, East Carolina University. [PDF] [Hard Copy]