Human skeletal remains give insight into culture and customs of ancient Cyprus

In A.D. 365, an earthquake devastated the city of Kourion on the island of Cyprus. Today, the skeletal remains of two of the earthquake’s victims are displayed in a museum, providing valuable insight on the customs and culture of Early Christian Cyprus.

Ever since excavating the earthquake victims, archaeologist Sherry Fox has searched for the story human skeletal remains tell about ancient societies. On April 5, she will share some of her findings during a free lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Paulus Great Hall of the Collins Legal Center.

“Cyprus has been controlled by powers from three different continents and has been a crossroads where remnants of past cultures are still alive,” she says.

Fox found that trauma patterns vary by location. The skeletons from inland, urban sites, for example, have more skull and hand fractures than skeletons near the coast — especially among males.

During her presentation, Fox will reveal the reasons for these regional differences.

“People should attend the lecture if they are interested in how people lived in the past, in particular what kinds of trauma and disease affected them,” she says.

Fox is the director of the Wiener Laboratory at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Since 1987, she has excavated and analyzed human skeletal remains from archaeological sites in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and Iraq.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Salem Society of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Willamette University Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology. ASL interpretation is available upon request.