ossamenta: Picture of an owl from a Medieval manuscript (Medieval owl)
In the comments to the strangest animal bone-post, I mentioned bird quadrates. And since I doubt most readers will immediately get an image in their minds from that word alone, I thought I’d add a picture.

Quadrates from chicken (left) and duck (right). This bone attaches between the skull and the mandible in birds and reptiles.

The quadrate is one of those bones that are rarely illustrated, so when you find them it’s not easy to immediately attach them to a species or to a specific element group. Before I learned to recognise them for what they were, I often put them in the fish bones bag.

Here is a good photo of the quadrate in situ.

And in my hunt for cool zooarch blogs, I came across Zygoma, which mostly consist of very difficult mystery object posts. The reason I find them very difficult is that these specimens come from all over the world - it's not too difficult to identify the type of animal, but which of the 13 different otter species is the one in the photo? *tears hair*
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
While browsing the Swedish Arkeologiforum (Archaeology forum - as if you couldn't guess :-) ), I came across a post on new excavations at Illerup Ådal. They haven't started yet, but funding has been acquired, so I will keep any eye out for more news. I find the Iron Age warfare sacrificial deposits in the North German/South Danish bogs fascinating, and it will be interesting to see what more they will find. They have found so many weapons, animals, and pieces of the warriors' outfits, but now they are going to dig in an area where lots of human bones have been discovered. Warriors on the losing side, or the dead ones on the winning side?
Article in Danish, and lots more information on Illerup Ådal here.

I'm planning to spend some money on books for my Ph.D. idea and through various site hopping* found a free online book (.pdf) on Medieval and Post-medieval smithing: Schmiedehandwerk in Mittelalter und Neuzeit. Beiträge des 6. Kolloquiums des Arbeitskreises zur archäologischen Erforschung des mittelalterlichen Handwerks. Perhaps it can be of interest? (The dead tree version is out of stock)

*: Oxbow and Antikmakler are great sites for archaeology books. Readers, do you have any favourites?

Remember my lament on the lack of zooarchaeology blogs a few posts ago? Kristina Killgrove of Powered by osteons gave me a really good tip: Jake's bones. It's a great blog written by a ten year old bone collector. I wish my parents let me have such fun when I was a kid. The fact that we lived in a large town and not in the wilds of Scotland may of course have something to do with it...
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
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: Weasel skull (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: Weasel skull (Default)
- Remember the mass grave of decapitated Vikings in Dorset? It turned out one of them had filed front teeth, just like some other men in Viking Age Scandinavia. No-one knows what these modifications signified. A religious thing? Local tradition? Strange and short-lived fashion? Inspiration from foreign travels? They are rare, only 24 skeletons of the 557 analysed in the original study had them. The grooves may have been filled with coloured wax or resin creating decorative patterns. I wonder if such grooves exist in other cultures from this period? I assume that if you're not looking for them, they can easily be missed.

- During a few hours last Sunday, just as much rain fell in Copenhagen as what falls in June, July and August combined! Needless to say, the sewers couldn't cope and there were floods everywhere. A friend of mine told me that the big excavation area for the metro turned into a huge 2m deep pool! I don't envy her the cleanup of the site... But there are several more important rescue operations going on right now, not just peoples' basement flats and shops, which of course are very important for the owners, but stuff of national and international importance: The basements of the Geological Museum and the Museum of Medicine history have been flooded, threatening unique fossil* collections and large collections of medieval human remains, for instance the Æbelholt monastery burials, an important assemblage for pathologies. Archaeological finds are normally stored in acidfree carton boxes, good for storage, but very bad in water immersion. There is a huge risk for mixing finds, whether bone or stone. And where on earth would you have space to dry tens of thousands of skeletons? The buildings have sustained damage, so they will definitely need to consider alternative storage places.

*: Being stone, they will survive the water, but the paper records and boxes which identify and separate them are at serious risk for damage.

- On a more cheerful note: A corgi skeleton drawing.

- Eldrimner has started food blogging again. This summer he's at the late 15th/early 16th fortified manor Glimmingehus and cooks renaissance and medieval food.

- And a new thing I learned from an old study: These Medieval combs are often called weaving combs in archaeological reports. No-one seem to know exactly what they would do with them while weaving, but they are ridiculously long for combing human hair. They are made from cattle metapodials and have sometimes decorations. Often there is a drilled hole near the top, or the natural hole in the bone is used. A study of Dutch combs, both these "weaving combs" and normal combs, in the early 1990s analysed lice and fleas found in combs, and guess what: every louse and flea they found in the "weaving combs" were human head lice/fleas. Lice and fleas have normally a specific species they use as a host and therefore they can be good indicators in archaeology. So, apparently, they were used in human hair. I still think they're too long to be used for normal combing, but that's just me.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
I and Daniel go way back. I'm not sure we were ever were in the same archaeology course (when you go that far back, the memories gets a bit blurry :-) ), but I used to hang out with Hanna, another archaeologist and re-enactor, who did food archaeology with Daniel back then - and still is. Daniel is writing a Ph.D. on Viking Age food culture, and has started blogging his cooking experiments at the Viking Museum in Lofoten, Norway.


As if you didn't have enough blogs to read!
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?


ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)

January 2019

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