ossamenta: Picture of an owl from a Medieval manuscript (Medieval owl)
Do you fancy chickens and want to do a ph.d.? There are now _two_ funded ph.d.s at Bournemouth University as part of the Chicken Coop project:

- Analysis of material culture associated with the keeping and exploitation of chickens in Europe.

- Analysis of the effects of chickens on the environment in Europe and the effects of the environment on the chicken both when they first arrived and subsequently after they became established in different regions.

And for those of you who prefer to eat or pet chickens rather than research them, Jim Morris has just published a conference report from the Animal Paleopathology Working Group's conference in Stockholm a few months back. I really wanted to go, but the budget was a bit too tight for that. But with a good summary of the talks you get the good bits, and can see if there are any people whose research you need to keep an eye out for.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Pathology is probably one of the more trickier parts of osteology. It's relatively easy to see that something is wrong on a bone, but to actually pinpoint it to a type of disease... Occasionally, you are lucky, but that's usually more to do with very particular pathologies from a particular type of disease. Often, the bony changes could have come from several kinds of diseases*. Sometimes it's not even a disease, just age related wear and tear. Of course it doesn't help that as opposed to human osteologists we usually only deal with single fragmented bones and not an entire body. Therefore I was very glad that I could go to the Professional Zooarchaeology Group's pathology themed meeting last month, to discuss these things with likeminded people.

*: Check veterinary medicine, I hear you say? Well, these days animals are often either treated or are put down before the disease progresses to stages where it affects the skeleton and not just the soft tissue. Consequently, veterinary medicine books are almost exclusively focussed on identification of disease from changes in soft tissue.

Read more... )
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Last Friday was Day of Archaeology 2013. And I didn't post a thing. Well, to be fair, it would have been a very unrepresentative day, since I took half the day off to show some visiting friends Oxford. Perhaps I'll do something for next year.

But I have something fun to show you. Among the bones from a small, fairly "normal"/boring evaluation there was a very fragmented horse skull with two deformed teeth. One had a large hole in the occlusal surface - that's the chewing surface - and a large groove on the side. They may be connected. There is still soil deep in the hole and in the groove that I haven't been able to remove. I guess if I soaked the tooth it would be possible, but I don't want to risk any flaking from long immersion. The other tooth also has a large groove on two sides.

 photo P1050324_zpsa029fdaf.jpg  photo P1050317_zpsda0b1194.jpg
Lingual (tongue-side) and side view

 photo P1050318_zpsf1b79051.jpg  photo P1050321_zps9cc53901.jpg
Buccal (lip-side) and occlusal view

I think that I might be dealing with caries in the occlusal surface that went deep and caused an infection in the root. The infection went outward and into the gum, from which it went into the neighbouring tooth. But I have never seen such deformation before, and occlusal caries in human teeth - admittedly far smaller than horse teeth - usually break the crown from within without any other changes in the enamel surface.

I think I need to bring the teeth to the next PZG meeting, as it's a pathology-themed meeting. Hopefully someone there will recognise 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 :-) .
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
After the usual cattle, sheep, horse, pig and dog bones it's fun to find some (relatively) unusual species. If the bones are a bit wonky, so much the better. This one turned out to be bone of the (last) week!

It's a cat tibia, which has fractured across its upper part. The fibula has also fractured, become partially fused to the tibia and twisted 180°. A new joint facet has formed on the now inner side. The medial side of the tibia has an abscess, which indicates that when the fracture healed, an infection set in. The bone is smooth (although it has become very eroded in the soil), so the cat lived for a long while after the fracture.

Unfortunately the lower part of the fibula was never recovered from the pit.

Fractured (but healed) cat tibia
The whole tibia. The upper part is towards the right.

Fractured (but healed) cat tibia
The lateral (outer) side. The original fibula joint is clearly visible.

The medial side with the abscess.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Yesterday I found the bone of the week. A sheep (or possibly goat, but considering the lack of goats in the assemblage and the presence of several sheep bones, most likely sheep) pelvis that had been fractured across the ischium and pubis*. Unfortunately the rest of the ischium and the pubis couldn't be found in the assemblage. The bone had not healed, but pathological changes show that the animal had survived and lived for several months (?) before it died. I was quite surprised, since this major trauma would have caused a significant limp, which must have been obvious to the sheep herder/owner.

*: For the uninitiated, the pelvis consists of three bones, the ilium (the shaft which attaches to the sacrum), the ischium (to the rear) and the pubis (to the front) which all meet at the hip socket (acetabulum). Well, technically, the pelvis is the sacrum and the two innominate halves, but I'm being lazy here...

Pictures below cut )
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)
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: Weasel skull (Default)
This week's weird pathology is a set of three pig front teeth from the lower jaw. They have fused at the tip, but are still not fully developed at the root. It seems to me that there are three different teeth: one decidious incisor (front milk tooth), one adult incisor and one adult canine tooth. Judging by the shape of the canine and of its enamel area, I think it's a female pig.

So what on earth has happened here? I've never seen a similar tooth fusion before. I think that as a little piglet, she (?) was kicked in the snout (or perhaps she went adventuring and fell hard on her face), and as the jaw healed from the fracture, this caused the developing teeth to move too close, and just as a tree can grow around and into a fence, the three teeth fused.

From below

From above


ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)

January 2019

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