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Thread: Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

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    Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

    Gosh, I sure hope so. How exciting.

    Apparently, it has been left to molder away after a tentative identification years ago. Now, the Otzi team is being asked to test him, and they're seeking funding. I just hope they can subtract all the contamination from years of handling, including paying attention to these concerns Kurd expressed on anthrogenica. com:


    He's always been a hero of mine:

    "If successful, the effort would mark the first positive identification of the remains of a high-ranking figure from ancient Rome, highlighting the work of a man who lost his life while leading history's first large-scale rescue operation, and who also wrote one of the world's earliest encyclopedias."

    "Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known as Pliny the Elder, was the admiral of the Roman imperial fleet moored at Misenum, north of Naples, on the day in 79 C.E. when Vesuvius erupted."

    "He would have had about a dozen quadriremes, warships with four banks of rowers, at his disposal, says Flavio Russo, who in 2014 wrote a book for the Italian Defense Ministry about Pliny's rescue mission and the tentative identification of his remains.


    Remains of a skull attributed to Pliny the Elder from the Museo di Storia dell'Arte Sanitaria in Rome Flavio Russo
    These ships were some of the most powerful units in the Roman naval arsenal, capable of carrying some 200 soldiers (or survivors) on deck while braving the stormy seas and strong winds stirred up by the eruption, Russo told Haaretz in an interview. "Before him, no one had imagined that machines built for war could be used to save people," he said.
    The Roman fleet made the 30-kilometer journey across the Gulf of Naples at full speed, launching lifeboats to collect the hundreds of refugees who had made their way to the beaches.
    According to Pliny the Younger, his uncle also disembarked and went looking for his friends in Stabiae. But as he was leading a group of survivors to safety, he was overtaken by a cloud of poisonous gas, and died on the beach."

    "Besides his last, humanitarian gesture, Pliny is known for the books he wrote, ranging from military tactics, to history and rhetoric. His greatest and only surviving work was his Naturalis Historia (Of Natural History): 37 books filled with a summation of ancient knowledge on astronomy, mathematics, medicine, painting, sculpture and many other fields of the sciences and arts."

    "Researchers plan to carry out two tests: a comparison between the skull's morphology with known busts and images of Pliny, and, more importantly, an examination of the isotope signatures in his teeth.
    "When we drink water or eat something, whether it's plants or animals, the minerals from the soil enter our body, and the soil has a different composition in every place," explains Isolina Marota, a molecular anthropologist from the University of Camerino, in central Italy.
    By matching the isotopes in the tooth enamel, which is formed in childhood, with those in soil samples, scientists can determine where a person grew up. In the case of the Iceman, they managed to pinpoint the Alpine valley where he had spent his childhood. For Pliny, they would look for signatures from the northern Italian town of Como, where he was born and bred, Marota told Haaretz."

    Let's hope they test more than the above two things.

    That it's precisely Pliny is something we could never probably know with any certainty, but if it comes back "Como" like in terms of area, it's a 50 year man, and the artifacts show equestrian and/or senatorial rank, I think it's probably a decent bet.



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    If the skull is already in the museum for a long time, contamination is quite possible.
    I wonder whether the busts and images are accurate enough to compare with the actual skull.
    They should also check whether there is variation on the skull shape in the busts and images.

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    Pliny the Elder:


    He reminds me of ancient carvings of saints in our area:


    Alessio Boni, Italian actor from Como?


    Manzoni has a weird, ugly chin:


    This is another view of the skull in question. Can someone tell something from the two pictures?


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    Manzoni has a weird, ugly chin.
    He's the only one who doesn't cover it up with a beard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    Manzoni has a weird, ugly chin.
    He's the only one who doesn't cover it up with a beard.
    Very true, Bicicleur...although you can see Boni's chin pretty clearly. Nothing about him is weird or ugly imo. :) Pliny's chin seems pretty short too.

    My saint carving might hide an ugly chin, but going through mental images we just don't run to chins like this generally speaking. The biggest part of the face is usually the nose, and sometimes the skull.

    My entrant for closest to Augustus look...our local baker...

    Augustus:


    Augustus look alike 2 from the Lunigiana.PNG

    Attachment 9108

    Another one:

    Augustus look alike.PNG
    Attachment 9109
    Last edited by Angela; 02-09-17 at 03:15.

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    Why did he include fantasy creatures like griffins who are like lion/eagle hybrids in his book about nature? I never read it, but I used to wiki creatures I would find in a video game and his name (and book) would reliablly show up in the wiki.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davef View Post
    Why did he include fantasy creatures like griffins who are like lion/eagle hybrids in his book about nature? I never read it, but I used to wiki creatures I would find in a video game and his name (and book) would reliablly show up in the wiki.
    Check out the Mosiac of Palestrina for your own amusement. It's a Roman depiction of scenes along the Nile and features Jurrasic and fanciful looking creatures next to Hippos and Crocodiles.

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    Pliny the Elder









    Alessandro Manzoni








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    I saw those busts too, but I didn't use them because I couldn't find a link that said they were specifically Pliny the Elder versus Pliny the younger. I probably should have spent more time looking.

    This highlights the kinds of difficulties they're going to have, I believe. The engraving supposedly based on the bust of Pliny the Elder looks quite a bit different.

    I do see the resemblance with Manzoni, which is why I included him, but the chin is a bit different, and if the bust you posted is the legit one, the nose is, as well, with Manzoni's much straighter.

    Don't misunderstand, I'm not nitpicking. We're not going to get clones, just resemblances.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Whether the skull is his or belongs to another Roman upper class, it would be great to finally get a Roman genome and see how it compares with modern Italians.
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    Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

    I'm going to speculate that Ancient Romans were 90+% similar to Modern Italians from South Tuscany to Calabria, and 85+% similar to North Italians, Sicilians, and Sardinians.
    IMO as you walk in Italy so many faces resemble sculptures of the old timers.

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    ^ The question is: were the first Italiotes the same as the people in the Roman Era? So many Roman citizens were moving through the empire and we know they came from several parts of the world.
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    Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

    Yes, or very similar, because There's no Way that the new comers ever outnumbered the Italians. And the Outsider's genes were absorbs, just like in Greece.
    Also the genetic remnants of the Roman's Italians is widespread in the Empire.
    Rome is in Italy, and the Romans were Italians, and the Italians were part of the City of Rome Territory.
    When we mention the Ancient Greeks, we Includes all the City States, no matter which City was in charge at any given time, we also includes Alexander the Great, even if he was from Macedonia.

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    Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diomedes View Post
    ^ The question is: were the first Italiotes the same as the people in the Roman Era? So many Roman citizens were moving through the empire and we know they came from several parts of the world.
    Same question for to the Celts, the Greeks, the Saxons, and so on?
    Does anybody positive for Italian AC has some Roman in them?
    The Romans were Italians.
    Surely that gene is not Viking, or Irish.
    Do the Math.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    I'm going to speculate that Ancient Romans were 90+% similar to Modern Italians from South Tuscany to Calabria, and 85+% similar to North Italians, Sicilians, and Sardinians.
    IMO as you walk in Italy so many faces resemble sculptures of the old timers.
    I think your underestimating the Greek component in Southern Italians, which the Romans would not have had, Magna Graecia was huge part of Southern Italy's history and likely played a large part in genetics as well, and Greek is only 1 of the differences, although being the major difference.

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    Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azzurro View Post
    I think your underestimating the Greek component in Southern Italians, which the Romans would not have had, Magna Graecia was huge part of Southern Italy's history and likely played a large part in genetics as well, and Greek is only 1 of the differences, although being the major difference.
    People were already living in Italy when the Greeks arrived, and the Greeks didn't control all of the Centre/South of Italy.
    Eventually, once the Greek were harshly oppose and at times defeated, first by some of the local tribes (parts of Puglia and Calabria for example), and later by Rome, the left over Greeks and their genes were slowly diluted and assimilated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    People were already living in Italy when the Greeks arrived, and the Greeks didn't control all of the Centre/South of Italy.
    Eventually, once the Greek were harshly oppose and at times defeated, first by some of the local tribes (parts of Puglia and Calabria for example), and later by Rome, the left over Greeks and their genes were slowly diluted and assimilated.
    Greeks settled heavily though were not talking a couple of colonies, thousands of Greeks flocked to Southern Italy, there was even in fighting amongst groups. To get into bigger context Greece was overpopulated and little arable land, when they set up these colonies it was to settle these 2 issues, and Southern Italy was very fertile. Now they certainly mixed with local groups that is a given, but by the time the Romans came some of these Greek colonies could have been close to 500 years old, plenty of time to establish themselves genetically. Certain areas will have more Greek ancestry than others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azzurro View Post
    Greeks settled heavily though were not talking a couple of colonies, thousands of Greeks flocked to Southern Italy, there was even in fighting amongst groups. To get into bigger context Greece was overpopulated and little arable land, when they set up these colonies it was to settle these 2 issues, and Southern Italy was very fertile. Now they certainly mixed with local groups that is a given, but by the time the Romans came some of these Greek colonies could have been close to 500 years old, plenty of time to establish themselves genetically. Certain areas will have more Greek ancestry than others.
    By the Time of Rome expansion in to Italy, the Greeks were already in Massive Decline.
    Carthage as example.
    The Greek colonist stop coming in to Italy long before.
    The Greeks didn't outnumber the South Italian. The Greeks genetic contribution had already decline, and diluted in many places by the South Italian Majority by this time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    By the Time of Rome expansion in to Italy, the Greeks were already in Massive Decline.
    Carthage as example.
    The Greek colonist stop coming in to Italy long before.
    The Greeks didn't outnumber the South Italian. The Greeks genetic contribution had already decline, and diluted in many places by the South Italian Majority by this time.
    Those Greek colonists are Southern Italians now, there was no Southern Italians before just different tribes like the Oenotrians, there are some late colonies as well, and Puglia had Illyrian Tribes around the same time, and the Italic Tribes like the Lucanians and Brutti came after the Greeks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azzurro View Post
    Those Greek colonists are Southern Italians now, there was no Southern Italians before just different tribes like the Oenotrians, there are some late colonies as well, and Puglia had Illyrian Tribes around the same time, and the Italic Tribes like the Lucanians and Brutti came after the Greeks.
    Could you please provide the dates you are using for the Italic tribes who settled in the south and the dates you are using for the Greek settlement, with some academic citations, please.

    Btw, the definition of "Italian" people would change depending on the particular time period in question. The same applies to any national group in Europe. When did the English become the English? One could say no earlier than the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and/or the Danish incursions, but then what about the Normans? Should it be dated after them, or was their input too small? See the difficulty? Such discussions are not really useful for genetic discussions.

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    Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

    The Illyrian arrived in Italy 1500 Years before the Greeks, and they mixed with the locals too.
    At what point is a Population Label "South Italian", or Greek, or Spanish, ....?
    Multiple Tribes, in some case related with each other, migrated, settle, and mingle with the locals.
    Everywhere in Europe.
    To a less extent maybe the Basques and the Sardinians.
    Most Populations are a collections of ancient tribes.
    The Greeks too are not exactly the same everywhere in Greece.
    The Ratio and Percentage of genes similarity makes a Population.
    For example:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Could you please provide the dates you are using for the Italic tribes who settled in the south and the dates you are using for the Greek settlement, with some academic citations, please.

    Btw, the definition of "Italian" people would change depending on the particular time period in question. The same applies to any national group in Europe. When did the English become the English? One could say no earlier than the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and/or the Danish incursions, but then what about the Normans? Should it be dated after them, or was their input too small? See the difficulty? Such discussions are not really useful for genetic discussions.
    http://www.academia.edu/Documents/in...ia_and_Sicily_

    Academic sources for Magna Graecia.

    wikipedia for both Oscan-Italic Tribes and Magna Graecia for dates.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Graecia

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucanians

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruttians

    yes and in the context that Salento was using Southern Italian cannot be defined like Southern Italians today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    The Illyrian arrived in Italy 1500 Years before the Greeks, and they mixed with the locals too.
    At what point is a Population Label "South Italian", or Greek, or Spanish, ....?
    Multiple Tribes, in some case related with each other, migrated, settle, and mingle with the locals.
    Everywhere in Europe.
    To a less extent maybe the Basques and the Sardinians.
    Most Populations are a collections of ancient tribes.
    The Greeks too are not exactly the same everywhere in Greece.
    The Ratio and Percentage of genes similarity makes a Population.
    For example:
    I am not agreeing or disagreeing with you, you bring up good points, don't get me wrong, I just think you underestimate the Greek heritage of Southern Italians, and that Greek heritage would have made Southern Italians living in that time already different than the Romans.

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    Pliny the Elder-Have they identified his skull?

    I Never said that there's not Greek's gene in South Italians.
    History and Genetics.
    When possible, Genes prove or disprove History.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    I Never said that there's not Greek's gene in South Italians.
    History and Genetics.
    When possible, Genes prove or disprove History.
    I think this is something we can both 100% agree about :), it will be very important we get some Roman dna, also would be very interesting to see what Pliny's Y line will be.

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