Your oppinion on odd skeleton position found in Roman tomb

Yôḥānān

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
3,913
Portugal
First of all a happy New Year to all of you.

From an article published some years ago in a mainstream newspaper the skeleton on the picture below was found in a Roman burial site in Beja and is considered to be from the 3rd century C.E.. The oddity of the finding is that his legs are positioned in a way that resembles that of the meditaing lotus posture. On account of that some people have come up with the conclusion it must belong to a yoga master of Indian origin. Being a bit misinformed don't know if there have been updates on this issue.
The two questions to the forum are:

1- What would be your interpretation of the finding?
2- Were there people being traditionally buried in this position in India in the 3rd century C.E.?

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Nov 2016
1,606
Germany
1- What would be your interpretation of the finding?
I don't want to commit myself right now, but actually this is not a lotus position. It is possible that the bones have been moved somehow. In any case, a real lotus position would look like this:

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Yôḥānān

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
3,913
Portugal
So that would be the orthodox burial position for a yoga teacher in antiquity? To be honest don't even know what kind of people were supposed to buried that way; Buddhists, Yogis?
 
Nov 2016
1,606
Germany
Buddhists, Yogis?
To my knowledge, in Hinduism and Buddhism the corpses are traditionally burned.

But there were exceptions that yogi could be buried in the seated lotus posture, see the photo of the skeleton which I posted above. In Buddhism there is a custom in some places to mummify a dead master. That seems pretty creepy. I doubt that Buddha himself would have appreciated that. The second mummy has sunglasses so that the dead eyes don't affect the viewer too terribly.

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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,010
Dispargum
To me it just looks like they were too lazy to dig a full-sized grave so they dumped him into a small hole with his legs bent. Originally his knees stuck up, but as they threw dirt over him and as his flesh and ligaments rotted away, the leg bones fell to horizontal positions.
 

Yôḥānān

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
3,913
Portugal
To my knowledge, in Hinduism and Buddhism the corpses are traditionally burned.

But there were exceptions that yogi could be buried in the seated lotus posture, see the photo of the skeleton which I posted above. In Buddhism there is a custom in some places to mummify a dead master. That seems pretty creepy. I doubt that Buddha himself would have appreciated that. The second mummy has sunglasses so that the dead eyes don't affect the viewer too terribly.

View attachment 25905

View attachment 25907
Had that same impression about cremation but to be honest don't know how generalized it would be.
To me it just looks like they were too lazy to dig a full-sized grave so they dumped him into a small hole with his legs bent. Originally his knees stuck up, but as they threw dirt over him and as his flesh and ligaments rotted away, the leg bones fell to horizontal positions.
That came to mind but the hole would have to be larger to sides, or otherwise would the bones end up in that position?
 
Aug 2018
638
Southern Indiana
Could it be that the person suffered from a severe arthritis or other ailment that prevented his legs from functioning and caused them to fuse in a bent state, polio?
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,074
MD, USA
To me it just looks like they were too lazy to dig a full-sized grave so they dumped him into a small hole with his legs bent. Originally his knees stuck up, but as they threw dirt over him and as his flesh and ligaments rotted away, the leg bones fell to horizontal positions.
THANK you! The "Indian yoga master" idea just sounds ludicrous to me. Very similar to the Roman woman buried in Britain with a perfectly common oil lamp with a gladiator on it, and a little statuette of Isis--so the idiots decided she was not only a female gladiator, but an Egyptian priestess of Isis! Gads...

Some kind of medical problem is slightly more likely, but should be readily visible on the bones. No mention was made, so I'd rule that out.

Matthew
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,526
Portugal
First of all a happy New Year to all of you.

From an article published some years ago in a mainstream newspaper the skeleton on the picture below was found in a Roman burial site in Beja and is considered to be from the 3rd century C.E.. The oddity of the finding is that his legs are positioned in a way that resembles that of the meditaing lotus posture. On account of that some people have come up with the conclusion it must belong to a yoga master of Indian origin. Being a bit misinformed don't know if there have been updates on this issue.

The two questions to the forum are:

1- What would be your interpretation of the finding?

2- Were there people being traditionally buried in this position in India in the 3rd century C.E.?
The Público is far from its best years.

In this case I would follow more the words of the archaeologist Miguel Serra, than the ones of the great master Jorge Veiga e Castro.

“A pose de enterramento era muito estranha e remetía-nos para o mundo oriental, mas sem definição”, referiu Miguel Serra, acrescentando que, no século III d.C, havia cultos orientais em Beja e identificou-se [quem?] “o indivíduo como estando associado a esse movimento.” / “The burial pose was very strange and sent us to the eastern world, but without definition,” said Miguel Serra, adding that in the third century AD, there were oriental cults in Beja and identified [who?] “The individual as being associated with this movement. ”

Miguel Serra has articles available at Academia.edu: https://uc-pt.academia.edu/MiguelSerra, most about Alentejo, but couldn’t identify the one, after 2007, most related with the issue in question. It would be relevant to read the excavation report. Just his that seemed to be the preliminary notice: https://www.academia.edu/421752/Necrópole_Islâmica_de_Beja._Notícia_preliminar_da_sua_identificação