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TITLE Illness and disease in Roman Crete
AUTHOR Harrison George W.M.
LANGUAGE Αγγλικά / English
PUBLISH DATE 14.08.2018
KEYWORDS pathology, plagues, climate change, earthquakes, military diplomata, aridity, skeletal analysis, diet, Ayioi Deka, Justinianic Plague, St. Cyprian’s Plague, Aesculapius, trauma
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Nothing is more mobile than microbes. Four categories of evidence are examined for what they can tell us but also for the limitations of the evidence and continuing scholarly debate. This first part of this paper examines the evidence that would indicate that all of the major plagues during the Roman Empire seem to have missed Crete. This in spite of the fact that mobility of populations in the first centuries of the Roman Empire meant that contagions were portable before late imperial laws tied people to their lands and professions. The second part of the paper examines evidence for death by trauma, for which the two greatest categories of evidence are earthquake and violence related to the rise of Christianity.

Illness and cures looks principally at epigraphy and centres on the cult of Aesculapius. The evidence at Lebena is not as detailed as one might wish, and evidence at other sites, such as Lissos, would argue a civic role of Aesculapius that rose in importance, certainly visibility, as the Empire continued. Last, skeletal remains from several sites are examined for what information they have about diet and shortened life expectancy as a result of diet and persistent repeated physical activity.