About the Webinar:

In this webinar Dr. Maria Liston will present us with evidence for the late Roman/early Byzantine leprosy epidemic that affected Thebes, and probably a much wider area of Greece. During the talk we will look at individuals who were buried in two mass graves, suggesting that they died in a catastrophic event, such as an epidemic disease.


The Justinianic plague, known to be the first wave of bubonic plague to sweep through Europe, was ravaging the Mediterranean world during the centuries this cemetery was in use. We anticipate that DNA analysis, that will be perfomed on our samples in the near future, will identify the disease that killed the individuals in these mass graves, but we know already that many of them also were suffering from leprosy when they died.

 

About Our Speaker:

Maria Liston received a B.A. and M.A. in Classics a B.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee. She was a Student Associate member of the ASCSA in 1989-1990, the first Wiener Laboratory Professor in 2004-2005, and a Whitehead Professor in 2016-2017. She is a skeletal biologist and archaeologist, focusing on the excavation and analysis of human remains and their mortuary contexts. She co-authored The Agora Bone Well (ASCSA, 2018), a study of a well containing 449 infant and fetal skeletons, probably deposited by midwives working in Hellenistic Athens.


Recently she has begun work on a well from the Swiss excavations at Eretria, Greece that also has a large number of infant skeletons in the fill and promises to provide an important comparison to the Agora well. She also is currently documenting skeletons from an early Christian cemetery found in the Sanctuary of Apollo in Thebes. This cemetery was associated with an early hospice or hospital; many of the individuals buried there suffered from leprosy, and two mass graves suggest there were victims of the Plague of Justinian, and she will be talking about this project in the webinar.