ARCHAEOLOGISTS have studied tooth enamel to shed more light on the residents of Winchester nearly 2,000 years ago.

Researchers have discovered that the city, then called Venta Belgarum, was a diverse and multicultural community in late Roman times.

Analysis of bodies in a Roman cemetery reveals about a quarter of the inhabitants were newcomers, some of them migrants from southern and central Europe.

Archaeologists have been studying the Lankhills Roman cemetery since the 1970s, using artefacts and burial features such as body position to infer ethnic background.

Earlier work suggested that some people were originally from the Roman province of Pannonia, in the Danube region of central Europe, based on the type of ornaments buried with the bodies.

A new report into the work has been published this week in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Dr Gundula Müldner, from Reading University, also analysed isotope ratios, the proportion between different types of atoms of the same chemical element - to learn more.

Dr Müldner said: “Isotopes are extremely useful for archaeology. Artefacts tells us about a person's cultural background, which can change throughout life. Isotopes, on the other hand, gives us the biological identity and cannot be changed.”

The research team studied tooth enamel of 40 people buried at Lankhills in the late Roman period, between 200 and 400 AD.