ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Thanks to the joys of Twitter, I've just read about the discovery of a new Mesolithic burial site in Germany. The Mesolithic, i.e. Stone Age hunter-gatherers for readers not acquainted with European archaeological terminology, was my first favourite time period together with the Viking Age. Since moving abroad I've have had very little opportunity for anything Mesolithic - it seems to only exist as the odd flint scatter over here and not as the bone and flint rich settlement sites we had in southern Sweden.

The burial site is on a small hill near Gross Fredenwalde, Brandenburg, and contains the skeletons of nine individuals, among those a 6 months old baby - the youngest complete skeleton from this time period in Germany. One man had been buried upright in a pit, and radiocarbon dates showed that he had died several centuries after the others, suggesting that the burial site would have had some sort of significance for the later inhabitants.

Only part of the site has been excavated and I wonder if this is an isolated cemetery site or if there was a settlement attached to it, like the Skateholm site in Sweden? I guess only extended excavations will tell.

And now for the links, because you didn't come here just to get my brief summary:
- Quartär - the "proper" archaeological article, with more information than you can shake a stick at. (pdf, in English)
- National Geographic - if you want a brief report that still gives you plenty of information.
- RBB - German article, with video.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
- Archaeologists have found a new trelleborg! (Danish article) These kinds of fortifications were all built in the 980s and have the same symmetrical design: circular rampart with four gates in each direction and roads between them crossing at a right angle in the middle. In each quarter there were four long houses around a central square. There are only five certain trelleborgs, as well as a couple of similar fortifications in Denmark and southern Sweden. I was lucky once, flying home, and we passed straight over the trelleborg outside Slagelse. It was so cool to see it from the air.

- A man in Norway found a Viking Age blacksmith burial in his garden! (More detailed Norwegian article)

- The perfect present for the nautically minded Viking Age enthusiast: Your very own custom built Viking ship replica As expected, it's a rather expensive present.

- Or perhaps you would prefer an anatomically correct armchair?

- In case you were morbidly curious: The grim details of Richard III's death

- And if you want to know more about human osteology, human evolution, paleopathology, forensic archaeology etc, the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) have created a forum for both members and members of the public to join and discuss things to your hearts content.

- Extinct humans passed high altitude gene to Tibetans
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
I took a bag of bones and tipped them out. Thought "Wait a second…" and promptly put one bone aside. The rest went into a new bag, neatly labelled and put in the "someone else’s problem"-box.

Romans… *shakes head* Always burying people all over the place.

Well, to be fair, it’s something the people in the Iron Age also did. And then pits and ditches were dug into old pits and/or ditches - sometimes so old you wouldn’t know they even were there - and what was originally in them got mixed with new waste and soil.


animal and human bones
From left: cattle metacarpal, very fragmented human pelvis and the shaft of a human humerus.


As an aside, this is why it's very useful to study both human and animal bones, even if you only want to work in zooarchaeology. Disarticulated human bones are rather common on rural sites, and they are not always so complete that they are easily recognised.
ossamenta: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
I have to take a break from the big rural Roman site, since there are a few smaller sites with urgent deadlines that have to go first. In one way, it's nice to have a bit of a break, think about other time periods and regions, having to write and not just record. But on the other hand it would be nice just to get on with it, and finish one site before starting another. But that's commercial archaeology for you.


I was linked to this, and found Trowelblazers - a site about female archaeologists at the beginning of the 20th century.
"Why hadn't I heard of these women? Not the individual names -- I can barely name any male archaeologists from that period -- but the idea of these women, working in such numbers and even leading their fields. It was as though we'd blithely wiped them all from our popular imaginations, and thus allowed each woman to be easily dismissed [...] as an exception-to-the-masculine- rule.

Martin Rundqvist posted about a really interesting site dug by our colleagues in Salisbury: 800 years of human sacrifice in Kent. Isotope analyses show that some of the dead people grew up in Scandinavia, some in the Mediterranean, and some were local. The researchers think that the sacrificed people could have been slaves, raided from various places in Europe, ending up in Kent. Perhaps the people with local isotope signatures were children of slaves who originally came from elsewhere?

Katy Meyers at Bones don't lie posted about another isotope project. This time it's an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Bamburgh, in northern England, where they found a great variation of isotope signatures among the population. The researchers argue that this settlement may have been connected to a religious community, where people could have come from all over Christian Europe for pilgrimage or for settling into the community.

The ultimate memento mori, a great idea for Halloween, or just plain fun for the bone mad among us? A Dutch artist 3D prints his own skeleton. I can see so many possibilities with this :-) .
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
The spring Oxbow catalogue came yesterday. So many wonderful books…. If only I had more money for buying them, more space to store them and more time to read them. But there are some really cool stuff that I feel the need to if not acquire, then to read them in the uni library.

cut )
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
I think I will remember 2012 for two things: the huge EEK report and going to conferences. Admittedly, I will do some work on EEK in 2013 when I get my report back with comments, but most of the work was done this year. Hopefully next year will bring slightly smaller assemblages (it's always nice when everything can fit into one office so you don't have to request van+driver if you need to get hold of some bones for re-checking stuff). I went to two conferences this year: The big EAA conference in Helsinki and a small craft conference in London. Both were very stimulating and once I get back to Oxford after the holidays I will take some time to work on my Ph.D. proposal, testing the waters in Germany/Denmark/The Netherlands.


And while I'm at it, I might just as well go through and delete some bookmarked links I thought would make for interesting reading:

- A different way of doing faunal history: Scientists use wormholes in old books to see the geographical and chronological spread of two furniture beetles.

- Coffin birth - how it happens and why. This is not only relevant for human osteologists, as we occasionally find animal burials containing an adult animal with associated foetal remains. Did the animal die while giving birth, before, or after? Or are the adult and foetus/newborn not related at all?

- A long account, but one very much worth reading, of the identification and eradication of kuru, the "laughing death" disease connected to the eating of human remains. And kuru is not the only disease that's gone, last year the livestock disease rinderpest was officially declared eradicated.

- Two very interesting posts on methods for interdisciplinary research (part 1, part 2), which I feel I need to read much closer as it has huge relevance for my Ph.D. proposal. Unfortunately, one cannot know everything, and knowing when to stop trying to learn things oneself and going asking experts is tremendously important. However, one also needs to know a fair amount of the "other subject" in order to ask the right questions.

- And finally, something for the bone-minded knitters among you :-) .
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I had a great time at the EAA conference, although I really would have liked a clone or two just for the extensive programme. How do you choose between so many interesting talks? I decided to go for the ”useful” option rather than the ”interesting” option. Obviously, it’s always better when these two categories mix. So in the end, I decided to go to the sessions ”Baltic urbanism”, ”Life in the city”, ”Famine, murrain and plague”, ”Settled and intinerant craft people” and sneak into the Scandinavian-related talks in ”War and warfare” and the wear traces talk in ”From bone to bead”. Obviously not all taks were relevant to me or memorable, but luckily, several were.

Read more... )
It was a good conference, and I managed to do some touristing too among all the conferencing, networking and socialising. I went on a day trip to Tallinn (gorgeous medieval city which made me miss Visby very much) and took a boat out to the 18th century fortress Soumenlinna (a great way to spend some hours). A visit is recommended.

Misc. links

Jul. 4th, 2012 07:21 pm
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
I have re-surfaced after a really fun dance weekend, and while I am still very tired and have sore feet (it was so worth it!), there's no rest for the wicked (nor for anyone else either), as the big EEK project continues. Luckily I have been given an extended deadline, which was very welcome. I'm still in the recording stage, so I can't tell you if there's anything very interesting there, as these things usually first show up when you start number crunching.

But I've seen some interesting stuff online:

- Medieval horse harness with lots of bling found in Ireland. I'd love to see it in person, or, better yet, a reconstruction so you can see how shiny it would have been when it was in use.

- Excavations in northern Germany seem to have found the remains of Sliasthorp, a town connected to the Norse elite of the area. Sliasthorp lies near the trading centre Haithabu/Hedeby, similar to the situation of Adelsö and Birka in Sweden (possibly Uppåkra and Lund as well, although Lund was founded much later). This suggests that the founding of these trading places may have been directly associated with the elite rather than with traders. The trading places would also have been under control of the elite.

- And if you're interested in Flemish archaeology, Onroerend Erfgoed (the Flemish equivalent of English Heritage) has put up several of their publications online, which you can both search and browse. There is no English version of the site, but it seems fairly straightforward.

- The knitted 16th century cap collection of the Museum of London is now online. 73 caps, coifs, cap fragments, linings and earpieces have been photographed, with captions containing contextual and technical information. To browse the caps, please go to the Collections Online and enter ‘cap’ in the Keyword field with the date range 1500-1600 in the search fields.

- The seventh conference on experimental archaeology will take place in january 2013 at the University of Cardiff, Wales. Papers on any any topic related to experimental archaeology are welcome, but those that touch on the relationship between experimental and experiential* approaches are particularly welcome.The deadline for papers is July, although the webpage doesn't state if it's the first of the month or the end of the month. Hopefully the latter.

*: An experiment can be repeated by the same researcher or others. Experiential archaeology is about the experience, for example building an Iron Age house and live in it to see how the construction worked in practice. What most of the re-enactment community call experimental archaeology is in fact experiential.

- And a very interesting post from Bones don't lie discusses new research on using stable isotopes for sexing human remains. While there is an overlap in the ratios of iron isotopes between males and females, the overlap was not greater than a normal sex determination using the pelvis. Only one French assemblage was used for the study, and obviously more research is needed to see what the results are for other regions.
ossamenta: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. Not much blog-worthy has happened here, though, so you've hardly missed much. That said, I've seen a couple of interesting research news in the last few days/weeks that I thought I'd share:

1632 is a well-known date in Swedish history. A Thirty Years' War battle in Lützen, in present-day Germany, mostly known for peasoup fog ("Lützendimma" in Swedish) and the death of the Swedish king, Gustaf II Adolf. A German research team has started to excavate one of the mass graves and hopefully they will get some interesting results from the analysis. As is common today, they will do isotope analysis to see if they can see where the soldiers came from. Not only were Swedes and Germans (or people from what later would become Germany) present, but both sides had hired mercenaries. The article talked about the placement of the bodies in the grave ("They were, at least, carefully laid to rest. The bodies were gathered from the battlefield and placed in a grave next to the street, arranged in two rows with their legs facing each other."), but looking at the pictures in the photo gallery, some men are lying face-down! I wonder if that was a common phenomenon (getting smelly? not caring that much for strangers/soldiers), or for some reason or other these persons either had the most horrible face wounds or the people burying them (probably civilians from Lützen) wanted to shame them after death.

And thanks to Katrin Kania (A stitch in time), I found an interesting study on the use of medieval prayerbooks - by using wear patterns from residual oil and dirt left by the readers' fingers! Which texts were mostly read? How were the books held? Modern science is so cool! (even when it doesn't involve cloning dinosaurs for T.rex burgers)
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I planned to write a rather late post on the York PZG meeting, but apparently I didn't bring my usual notebook, and now I can't find the one I used. But, fear not: the PZG webpage has a list of all meetings and minutes, so you won't miss what we talked about back in July last year. Seeing the Hungate site was particularly rewarding, for the sheer Oh. My. God. factor of the amount of bones. IIRC of an expected 1500 boxes of finds, they estimated that 1000 of those would be animal bone.

Large storage room with lots of boxes on shelves
A selection of the Hungate animal bone boxes. There might be some boxes in the photo that don't contain animal bone, but there certainly aren't many.


I'm taking a break from the big EEK site (scheduled to work on that one until summer), as two smaller project had to be done right now. They're generally pretty standard with a few surprises. Today I found an otter jaw. Wild mammals (with the exception of deer and hare) are normally very rare in post-mesolithic bone assemblages, and I can't recall ever seeing otter bones from the UK before. I'm glad I recognised it right away - we have no otter mandibles in the reference collection... I didn't bring a camera today, so pictures will have to wait until next week.


But you got to see this: a 40 second stop motion video on laying out a skeleton.
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Still no news on the Uppsala Ph.D. Well, it’s only been two weeks, so if they got many applications they may not yet have made their decision on who to call for interview. Other than that, work continues as usual. The winter meeting of the Professional Zooarchaeology Group is next Saturday, so you can expect a post on that later.

- The National Antiquities Board in Sweden has digitalised the entire series of Sveriges runinskrifter (Runic inscriptions in Sweden). All files are large pdfs, so if you’re on a slow connection, beware. And I guess I don't have to warn that they are in Swedish, right?

- An international conference on use-wear analysis is taking place 10-12 October in Faro, Portugal. This announcement was planned for an earlier post, as the deadline for submission of papers and posters was 30th January… But bookmark the site if the subject appeals to you. I haven’t had much contact with use-wear studies since my uni days, as it’s not a common thing in commercial archaeology. Essentially, for you non-archaeologists, use-wear studies analyses the wear traces different materials leave on various archaeological objects. For example flint knives used to cut grass have different polish than ones used to cut antler. I really look forward to the publication of the preliminary program (30th June). There may be studies of relevance to my interests! There was one talk at the ICAZ worked bone research group meeting in 2003 on use-wear on hide working tools (the talks were published as From hooves to horn 2005.), and maybe someone is still doing studies on this.

- There’s a very interesting post up on Bones don’t lie on
ossamenta: Fossil of a pterosaur (Rhamphorhyncus longicaudus). (Flygödlefossil)
Blogposts with links are often called linkspam, but personally, I think that's the wrong word. Spam is something I don't want, whereas interesting links will brighten up my day. Therefore, I will call these posts linksoup, since soup is delicious! :-)


I found an interesting blog today: Powered by osteons, written by a human bone specialist in Italy. Lots of Roman posts, but also a great variety of interesting stuff, such as the use of sulphur isotope analysis to research fish consumption and the age of weaning.

Contagions is a more specialised blog, about historic infectious disease. I had only time to poke around a bit, but found posts on trench fever and the black death. As some of you probably already have heard, dna from Yersinia pestis has been extracted from several skeletons from a plague pit in London, thus confirming that Yersinia was (at least one of) the bacteria that wrecked havoc in Europe in the mid-14th century. (More info, and some background to the debate)


Yersinia pestis: Isn't she cute!


On a Mesolithic site in Sweden, archaeologists have found human skulls on stakes, placed in a shallow lake near the settlement. For once, the use of "ritual" doesn't seem far-fetched. I can't wait to read the report on this site. The Mesolithic has a special place in my heart, ever since I studied prehistoric archaeology in Lund. So many rich sites in Scania and Denmark, with not only bone and antler but also wood. On the other hand, Mesolithic sites that only yield flint scatters, as is the case in most of Britain, is rather boring.
(More detailed information on the site and ceremonial deposit in the site blog - only in Swedish, though)

Going even further back in time, dinosaur feathers have been found in amber! Unfortunately I didn't see any when I was on the lookout for nice amber in Gdansk.

For those of you who are based near London, or a planning a winter visit, the new exhibition
Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination will be at the British Library from 11 November-13 March.

And don't forget to put a note in the calendar for 2013: a big Viking exhibition at the National Museum in Denmark (Copenhagen), the Museum für Vor- und Frügeschichte (Berlin) and the British Museum (London). The National Museum in Denmark has a blog on the ongoing work with creating the exhibition (Danish only).

Keeping on the historical side, I must recommend Reel history: a blog series on the accuracy on various historical movies. On a related note, the fabulous Isis* wrote a post on how the present fashion is reflected in historical movies.

*: I adore 18th century fashion (the movie Dangerous Liasons, anyone?) and someday I will get around to make a 18th century outfit.


Various useful sources I found online:
- Abstracts from the 15th meeting of the ICAZ fish remains working group in 2009 (pdf)
- London lives 1690-1800: crime, poverty and social policy in the metropolis. Digitised and searchable primary sources focussing on middle and lower class Londoners. The sources include over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages from eight London archives and is supplemented by fifteen datasets created by other projects.
- A ph.d. thesis which is right in my interest sphere: Marianne Erath, Studien zum mitelalterlichen Knochenschnitzerhandwerk : die Entwicklung eines spezialiserten Handwerks in Konstanz (Studies on Medieval craft of bone-turners: development of a specialised handcraft in Konstanz) (pdf)
- My colleague Jessica Grimm's thesis Animal keeping and the use of animal products in medieval Emden (Lower Saxony, Germany).
- Another interesting ph.d. - on medieval textiles and fashion rather than bone: Eva I. Andersson (2006) Kläderna och människan i medeltidens Sverige och Norge (Clothing and the individual in Medieval Sweden and Norway) (pdf)
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
Winchester is an interesting town. The ”first” settlement was an Iron Age hill fort, then at c. 70AD the Romans came and established a town there. In the early and mid-Saxon period there seems to be a decline of the town, but in 662AD Winchester becomes the site of the bishopric, and then becomes the capital of the kingdom of Wessex. After the Norman invasion London takes over the throne (so to speak), but Winchester remained the site of the bishopric. And not just any bishopric: the See of Winchester was one of the wealthiest in Medieval England.

winchester book cover

The Northgate House, Staple Gardens and Winchester Discovery Centre (formerly Winchester Library) sites are located in the north-west corner of the Roman and Medieval town, within the walls*. The Saxon (and Medieval) street Brudene Stret (nowadays Staple Gardens) separates the sites. There is plot continuation throughout the Late Saxon, Anglo-Norman and High Medieval periods, which lent itself to comparisons between the plots both spatially and chronologically. However, in the early 13th century, the buildings on the northwest side of Brudene Stret were demolished and the area formed part of the Archdeacon’s residence.

The book gives an introduction to the sites, including documentary evidence from the Medieval period and land use over time. The next few chapters discuss the two sites by period: Prehistoric and Roman, Late Saxon (c. 850-1150), and Anglo-Norman/Medieval (c. 1150-1550). The latter two chapters are discussed by property, which would facilitate easy chronological comparison. Thereafter follows a discussion of the site in a wider context, again by period. Here the Late Saxon and Anglo-Norman/Medieval periods are combined and form a substantial chapter, discussing the creation of the town, building development, water supply, pit function, industry and craft (metal working, textile working, skinning and furriering**, bone and horn working), and the Archdeacon’s residence.

There is a short chapter on the scientific dating evidence, i.e. radio carbon dating and archaeomagnetic dating, a method which was chosen since there was an abundance of fired hearths in situ throughout the Saxon period. A large number of dating samples were taken to form a detailed phasing of the site, trying to find out whether the properties were laid out at the same time, or grew more organically. Other research aims included finding out whether the settlement existed before or after the ”official” foundation of the burh, and trying to calibrate the pottery dating sequence.

That’s half the book. The other half is devoted to the finds. Lots of pottery, from prehistoric to post-medieval, much building material such as tile, stone and painted wall plaster, 305 Roman coins, several ”small finds”, i.e. metal and bone objects, glass and shale. The small finds are significantly summarized in the book (a shame, as I found lots of worked bone mounts when I did my analysis, and I haven’t got around to check the cd yet - mea culpa), and the full report is included on an accompanying cd. In fact, all specialist reports, including scientific dating, are included in full on the cd. The finds section in the book also includes the ecofacts, i.e. animal bone (a lot, including evidence for a furrier’s workshop), molluscs (not many), charcoal, seeds and other plant remains (a lot, including evidence for dyeing, probably textiles), as well as human bone (mainly a small number of Roman infant burials), intestinal parasites (very few). There’s also a summary of an analysis of soil micromorphology, chemistry and magnetic susceptibility.

As with the Lankhills book, there are plenty of drawing and colour photographs throughout the book. I would recommend the book to anyone with an interest in urban archaeology from these periods.


*: The layout of the town wall didn’t change much over the centuries. Waste not, want not, I guess.
**: This is one of the sites I use for my tawyers and furriers talk at the conference in Gdansk in September. It’s (AFAIK) the second site in Britain where they have found dumps of bones from squirrel feet - one of the most common fine furs in the Medieval period and subject of a huge industry and trade. The other site is much later in the period: The Bedern in York (14th century).

B.M. Ford and S. Teague, 2011. Winchester - a city in the making. Archaeological investigations beteeen 2002 and 2007 on the sites of Northgate House, Staple Gardens and the former Winchester Library, Jewry Street. Oxford Archaeology Monograph No. 12.
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
First, thanks for the well-wishes. The interview seemed to go well: some things that they liked about me, and some things I could improve on. We'll see what happens.

The new Oxbow summer catalogue is out and I thought I'd give a shout-out to some that seemed interesting. A lot of the catalogue is on Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, which I'm not enough familiar with to tell which books are of general relevance and which are only for the artefact/regional specialists. If you are interested in those periods I recommend you check out their website. An exception was made for books of interest to re-enactors and people interested in making replicas of historical finds, as there were a few of those in the Roman section.

Cut for lots of books )
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
Photobucket

The The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation was spotted by yours truly in Foyles bookshop yesterday. As is obvious from the title, the book deals with the legislation and treatment of human remains in 62 countries around the world (even Antarctica is included!). I wrote part of the Sweden chapter, together with Torbjörn Ahlström, Kristina Jennbert and Elisabeth Iregren.

At £184.99 it's not for everybody's bookshelf, but if you deal with excavation of human remains in several countries it might be a good idea to get hold of it.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Written as part of the Frequently-Or-Not-So-Frequently-Asked-Questions project (itself part of the annual Three Weeks for DreamWidth), for the prompt "I've often wondered how archaeologists determine the sex of a skeleton - I know there are differences in the pelvis, but what else is taken to be a clue? I'm also curious about how accurate it is, and whether anyone's done any studies on that."

Sex estimation of skeletons is one of the fundamental methods of bone analysis, and, yes, lots of studies have been done on that. Essentially, there are three ways of sexing (human) skeletons: shape and relative size of the bones, grave goods associated with a particular sex/gender, and DNA testing. This post is primarily dealing with skeletal sexual characteristics, but the other methods will get a brief mention.

cut for length )
And finally, just remember that it’s always more complicated once you go into the details…


*: cis = having a gender identity that matches the sex one was assigned at birth. Opposite to trans gender.

Cross-posted to [community profile] archaeology and [community profile] fonsfaq
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
As one of the contributors, I got a copy of the new Lankhills cemetery book last Friday. The book is so new it’s not out in the bookshops yet, but will probably be in the online catalogues next week or so.

Lankhills book cover


It’s a very thorough book, with good illustrations and (several) photographs. It deals with the AD300-400 cemetery outside the Roman town Venta Bulgarum, now Winchester, in southern England. The site has been excavated previously, see for example Clark, 1979, The Roman cemetery at Lankhills, Winchester studies Vol.3. A total of 807 inhumation burials and 32 cremations have been excavated so far. The latest excavations, which this book covers, recovered 284 articulated skeletons, 100 deposits of disarticulated bones and 25 cremations. This latest assemblage also includes some unusual burials, such as eight prone inhumations (i.e. buried face to the ground) and five decapitated skeletons, one of which was an infant.

The main part of the book consists of the grave catalogue, artefact analysis and human remains analysis. The grave catalogue has colour drawings of almost every inhumation, including drawings of pottery and photographs of most grave goods (glass beads, bracelets of copper alloy and shale, rings of copper alloy and silver (including a few intaglio ones), copper alloy brooches (including one with inscription - this is featured on the book cover), bone combs, copper alloy buckles, knives, hair pins, spindle whorls and one glass vessel and a pair of decorated spurs). The hob nails and the textile imprints on artefacts are discussed (and photographed) in the artefact chapter, as is the pottery. The artefact chapter also includes analysis and discussion of each of the abovementioned artefact types, as well as coffin nails, coins and tiles.

The human remains analysis has the usual detailed studies of age, sex and stature, as well as a very extensive pathology section. There is much variation in the pathologies, not just the usual caries, fractures and osteoarthritis, but amputations, decapitations, DISH, cribra and femora orbitalia, osteomas, ankylosis, Perthes’ disease, necrosis, spondylosis, sinusitis, rickets and possible scurvy (as well as several other pathological conditions).

Smaller parts of the book discuss the cremation burials (including pyre technology), burnt and unburnt animal remains in the graves, isotope analysis and funerary rites. The isotope analysis concerns both 13C + 15N and oxygen + strontium. The 13C and 15N analysis focusses on unusual individual graves (DISH, decapitations, prone burials, ones with unusual grave goods) to see if the diet of these people differed from the rest of the population. The oxygen and strontium analysis on the other hand discusses ancestry. Samples were taken from 40 individuals, of which 11 showed non-british signatures: 10 were from the mediterranean region and one possibly from central Europe. The discussion on funerary rites includes the use of coffins and shrouds, body position and grave goods.

All in all, if you’re interested in Roman artefacts, or Roman human remains, I recommend getting hold of this book, or at least checking it out in the local university library. Even if you’re only interested in human paleopathology in general it might be worth having a look.


P. Booth, A. Simmonds, A. Boyle, S. Clough, H.E.M. Cool and D. Poore, 2010. The late Roman cemetery at Lankhills, Winchester. Excavations 2000-2005. Oxford Archaeology Monograph No. 10.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Hello readers! It's been a while - sorry about that. I'm back in the office again, after a (too) short holiday in Sweden last weekend to go to a friend's wedding. I have plans for a pathology post, but meanwhile, have some links:

- Quite a detailed article on the 18th century ship found underneath the World Trade Center site in New York.

- More marine archaeology: my former site director dives in the remains of a submerged Mesolithic forest in the Baltic Sea.

- And a huge Mesolithic house in Finland.

- I find many interesting osteology finds posted online as appetite whetters for tv-shows. I rarely watch tv, and prefer to read about these things instead, mostly since articles are geared towards specialists and will include all the interesting details and 'however's, whereas tv will take take three times as long to get to the point and then often focus on the most exciting bit and present that as Truth (tm). These links are a bit old, but hopefully that means that I can go article hunting soon: Sailors' skeletons from Nelson's navy and a slideshow of pictures of the gladiator skeletons from York, including a picture of the guy who had been bitten by a large predator. I clearly need to see more lion/bear damaged bones as it certainly wasn't obvious to me.

- Admittedly, this one was posted on April 1, but it seems rather interesting: evidence of gluten intolerance in a Roman skeleton. I haven't heard anything about this elsewhere, so can anyone confirm this?
ossamenta: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
The African guy in my last post: I googled and found more info! In the Daily Mail, surprisingly enough*. They don't go into proper details, but there are more info regarding methods and results than in the other article.




*: The Daily Mail is a British tabloid of a rather conservative bent. An American friend of mine explained it as "something like a tabloid version of Fox News, with less of a conscience." Now, that won't help those of you who have no idea what Fox News is. But you can have a song instead.
ossamenta: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
The irritating part of being an osteologist (well, one irritating part anyway) is that you know so many exceptions to the rules, and complications that when you see articles as this one: A skeleton excavated in the ruins of an Ipswich friary has been identified as a medieval African man, which of course is really interesting, but I do wonder how much of the statements (for example "the man was born a Muslim in 13th-Century Tunisia, who was taken to England during the ninth Crusade. It is thought he converted to Christianity before living in England for over ten years, [...] before a burial in the Friary itself.") are journalistic shortcuts and how much the scientists could actually pinpoint? 13th century - sure, I accept that. But why specifically Tunisia, and not just "coastal north Africa"? Inquiring minds want to know!

Yes, I could write to the archaeological unit that did the excavation, but you know, that would be work :-) . Or wait until the proper report gets published.


On a less grumbly note, I can recommend the following site blogs (in Swedish only, I'm afraid) for those of you who have a yearning for being out in the muck and finding cool things:
- Åkroken i Nyköping: Medieval.
- Motala Ström: Mesolithic and Neolithic (and some Iron Age too).
- Kvarteret Druvan/Dovhjorten i Jönköping: 17th century and Medieval.

Any tips on other interesting site blogs?

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