Imperial Roman mobility and migration at Velia (1st to 2nd c. CE) in southern Italy

Robert J. Stark*, Matthew V. Emery, Henry Schwarcz, Alessandra Sperduti, Luca Bondioli, Oliver E. Craig, Tracy Prowse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mobility and human migration are seen as hallmarks of Roman society. With increasing territorial expansion throughout the Mediterranean region during the Imperial Roman period, wider opportunities for both self-driven and forced mobility became possible. This study analyzes δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr values from the dental enamel of 20 human second molars (M2) to examine for potential instances of mobility at the 1st to 2nd c. CE site of Velia, located on the Tyrrhenian coast of southern Italy. Velia served as a secondary port and was utilized for the shipment of goods, boat maintenance, fish processing and arboriculture. Bagplot analysis indicates that at least 10% (n = 2/20) of the individuals sampled immigrated to Velia from non-local regions. The remaining 18 individuals show mixed signs of local residency and local mobility. Comparison of the Velia data with the contemporaneous southern Italian Imperial Roman (1st to 4th c. CE) site of Vagnari indicates a similar level of mobility to both sites. Though mobility is clearly evident among the individuals sampled from Velia, mobility to Velia appears to have been less common than to larger cosmopolitan sites, such as Portus, in proximity to the capital at Rome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102217
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Early online date12 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020

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© 2020, Elsevier Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Imperial Rome
  • Italian peninsula
  • Mediterranean
  • Migration and mobility
  • Oxygen and strontium isotopes

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